cutting off a hired mentor, dealing with pushy new grads, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. How do I tell a business mentor I don’t want to continue meeting?

I am trying to start a small business. Several months ago, I hired a business mentor who came recommended from a friend in the same field. Early on, their support was immensely helpful, though I found their tendency to be upwards of 15 minutes late for appointments annoying. Following this, it got worse. They often don’t respond to emails that ought to be answered (e.g., scheduling things, payments, requests for receipts), and they are routinely 15 minutes late for meetings, which I am paying for, and it got to the point where they have even just not shown up for meetings a few times.

This person also ghosted me for 6+ weeks with no explanation and by the time I hunted them down, we should have been done with the mentorship program. I had emailed several times and even messaged them on social media before getting an explanation but no apology. I’m honestly so fed up with the lack of professionalism that I no longer want to continue with sessions.

I don’t know how to tell her that I no longer want her services due to her poor communication, chronic lateness or absences, etc. without fully burning that bridge. Yes, I no longer want to work with her, but we may cross paths again due to some overlap in our professional circles and I would rather not have it be *a problem* if I encounter her again in the future. What should I say? (Money-wise, we’re even; I’ve paid for what she’s done so far but not more than that.)

It shouldn’t burn a bridge to say something like, “We’ve had so much trouble scheduling these sessions that I think it’ll be easier to wrap up here and not keep trying to schedule more. Thanks for the help you’ve given me, and all the best with everything you’re working on!”

If she tries to convince you to finish the remaining sessions, you could say, “I appreciate the offer, but scheduling has gotten so tough. Stopping here makes sense for me.”

That’s the shouldn’t-burn-a-bridge version. But personally, I’d want to be more explicit and say something like, “When you’ve scheduled sessions and then not shown up or shown up very late, it’s really messed up my schedule. To hold time for our meetings, I push other things back or don’t schedule them at all, and I’ve had to put a lot of time into tracking you down. I appreciate the help you’ve given me, but I need to be able to count on a reliable schedule.” And frankly, that version shouldn’t burn a bridge either! It’s factually true and it’s not like you’re calling her names, but since you’re concerned about keeping things low-key, it’s fine to end it without getting into the details about why.

2. Dealing with pushy grads seeking mentorship or a job

I’m an art director, and I work at a small studio where I was hired after graduation. I have grown up with the company and now lead a team that I built under me. I’m considered a success story by my art college. As you can probably imagine, getting a job after art school is a numbers game and luck as much as skill.

I frequently get contacted by students, who are eager to have their portfolios looked at and get validation, mentorship, and … probably primarily … a salaried job.

However, while I am polite and I participate in school-run portfolio review events, I prefer to keep myself distanced personally. Now and then, I get students who continue to reach out to me by my personal email or Instagram and seek to forge a connection with me, show their portfolio again, or ask how they can become more appealing to my workplace.

The truth is, if they have submitted their portfolio and haven’t been hired already, they probably aren’t going to unless their work changes or improves. Being pushy will only hurt their chances more. In some cases, artists have been on my radar for years and I hired them once the opportunity seemed to match their skillset. If those artists had bugged me, they wouldn’t have been considered.

It puts me on edge when these grads try to contact me by my personal email and social media. I’m not their friend and while I’d love to see them succeed, I’m sick of being treated like their special connection to a job. We aren’t the only studio in existence. What sort of reality check is appropriate to give them? I worry I’ve been too kind in the past (I’ve given canned answers and brushed them off, but not given personal reviews or advice). It feels about time to be more direct, and perhaps warn them off doing this to others.

I’m sympathetic to them — they’ve probably been told they need to do things like this to network their way into a job in a highly competitive industry. I agree that it’s generally unhelpful and frequently annoying to be on the receiving end, but it’s good to remember they’ve been told to do this.

The kindest thing is to be more direct — not rude, but honest. For example: “We get a tremendously high volume of interest from prospective applicants. We really try to funnel people to our formal hiring process and can’t offer much help outside of it, due to the sheer number of requests we’re fielding. I’m sorry I can’t help!”

Any chance, though, that you’d be willing to write up a quick FAQ that you could send along with that response or point them to online? I bet you get a lot of the same questions over and over, and by directing people to something like that you’d be (a) doing everyone a service with just a one-time, short investment of your time and (b) reinforcing that there are a lot of people making these same requests.

3. New colleague is obsessed with changing my team’s name

I’m going to use teapots as a stand-in for anonymity. I work in teapot support at a small company that sells teapots of all kinds, from small personal tea sets to large industrial-size tea machines. My department has been Teapot Support since the beginning, our public email is teapotsupport@teapotsupply.com, and we are known as Teapot Support to our customers and our colleagues.

Recently, our company began to expand its industrial-size tea machine business, and these industrial machines require a level of expertise that Teapot Support can’t provide. The industrial tea-focused team is building their own Industrial Tea Machine Support team. That’s great! We can’t do what they do, and we’re happy our customers have industrial tea machine support to meet their needs. We answer the initial and simpler questions, then hand off the trickier issues to this team.

However, the manager of this team started at our company recently and is hell-bent on changing my team’s name, because our department names being similar is “confusing.” He has brought this up during or after every meeting I’ve had with him. He tells his employees that my team’s name is “Teapot Service” (it isn’t), repeatedly calls us entry-level, and questions our capacity to answer more complicated teapot questions, even ones unrelated to the industrial tea machines. (I also found out he tried to change another team’s name that sounded somewhat similar to his! And that team doesn’t even work with customers.)

This feels like a weird, petty power grab. It’s also annoying – I don’t want to waste time debating titles and names. There’s a lot of work to be done, and we need to work together. And honestly, if one team is going to change their name, it’s his, not ours! We are larger, more established, and most importantly, we are customers’ first point of contact for all issues. Changing our name would be way more confusing both internally and externally than changing his team’s name.

I am tempted to correct him when he tells other people that we’re actually “Teapot Service,” to tell him his pet project doesn’t matter, and to focus on real problems. But he is part of an important, growing side of the business, so I know it’d be bad to burn this bridge. Also, the sort of person who would spend his first few months at a company trying to undermine another department is probably not someone I want to cross. But … I’m not wrong, right? This is a ridiculous thing to be obsessed with? How should I handle it?

You sure don’t sound wrong to me. It’s one thing for someone new to come in and say, “Huh, with the emergence of our new team, it seems like it would be clearer if y’all were Teapot Service instead of Teapot Support” but then back off once they hear why that doesn’t make sense. But that’s not what he’s doing. It’s strange that he’s pushing it this hard, particularly to the point that he is deliberately using the wrong name when he talks about your team. And what’s up with him also trying to change another team’s name? He is strangely fixated. (To be fair, maybe there are details I’m not privy to that make him right about the name — but if that were the case, his actions would be so far from the right way to handle it that I’m skeptical it is.)

If you’re the manager of your team, you should be able to take this up with him and, if necessary, someone above you. Don’t tell him his pet project doesn’t matter, but correct him when he uses the wrong name for your team, and at some point you could say, “You’ve brought this up repeatedly and I want to be clear that our name isn’t changing, for all the reasons we’ve talked about. It seems like we’re discussing this every time the two of us meet, so I want to be clear it’s not on the table and it doesn’t make sense for us to re-litigate it every time we talk. Is there some piece of this you feel still needs discussion before we put it to rest permanently?” If you’re not the manager of your team, ideally your boss would be the one would do that — but even so, you can do most of this aside from the “it’s not on the table” bit (and even that might be fine, depending on your role and the politics there).

4. Should I tell my coworker the quote in her email signature is wrong?

Here’s a relatively low stakes question for you. I work at a very large international company. A coworker who is senior to me but in a different segment of the company joined our team for a sales presentation to a potential client. In working with her, I noticed she has a quote in her email signature. I’m not a huge fan of putting anything beyond basic contact information in your email signature, but it fits her personality and is relates to her role. However, she is attributing the quote to the wrong person.

Her misattributed quote is not quite “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” — Albert Einstein. But it’s close. I think most people won’t know it’s incorrect, but some will. Should I tell her? And how do I do it without coming off as “well, actually…”?

Nah, leave it alone. It’s not so dire that it must be fixed and you don’t know her well. I share your impulse to want to fix things when they are wrong (I used to have to restrain myself from marking up errors on restaurant menus) but it’s actually very liberating to realize you don’t need to fix everything.

5. Docking holiday pay if someone misses the day before or after a holiday

I work in healthcare and am a new-ish manager. Our company policy is that employees do not get paid for holidays if they call out the work day immediately before or after a holiday. The reason behind it is solid: we approve PTO as much as possible, but we also have minimum staffing requirements and need everyone scheduled to be there. This policy has been in place at past employers as well.

Unfortunately, one of my direct reports had a family emergency the day after a paid holiday and found out today that they wouldn’t be paid for the holiday.

My employee has not asked for me to intervene. I’ve always considered the policy harsh but fair. I was very nearly in the same situation, though, and my husband was horrified to hear that I could have had a reduced paycheck. Now I’m second-guessing it all!

My question is this — is there a difference in how these policies apply to hourly vs salaried or exempt employees? If there is, how would you approach this with HR? Is this a thing in other industries?

It’s a thing in some industries, particularly ones where coverage is important and they want to disincentivize people from calling out to extend a long weekend, but it’s a crappy policy if it doesn’t allow for legitimate emergencies. You could try pointing out to HR that it’s unfair and demoralizing to deny someone holiday pay in a situation like this, but if these policies are standard in your field you might not get very far.

(On exempt vs. non-exempt: This policy can’t apply to exempt employees since you can’t dock an exempt employee’s weekly pay except in very limited circumstances.)

{ 344 comments… read them below }

  1. 1000*

    OP5, I know this isn’t your fault, but this is a ridiculously harsh policy, especially as a blanket, no exceptions approach. (In many non-US jurisdictions, it is illegal.)

    Sometimes, people do genuinely get sick after a holiday through no fault of their own. Sometimes, there is a legitimate emergency. Yes, some people will call in sick the day after a holiday just to get a longer weekend or whatever, but they are a minority.

    If you have any power or leverage, you need to push back to HR or management on this. Or approach someone who you trust who has that power.

    1. Kella*

      It seems like if one employee was consistently out the day before or after a holiday, this could potentially be addressed as a performance problem. If a lot of employees are doing it, perhaps your PTO policies are somehow making it difficult for people to get the time off that they want so they’re having to resort to calling in “sick” to get the time off with their family. And if it’s rare that people are doing this, and a good chunk of those rare times are actual emergencies, then this policy is both useless and unfairly punitive. It may disincentivize unnecessary call-outs but it also incentivizes working sick.

      1. Annie J*

        Absolutely, I’m always surprised at what US employers can get away with, but this is one of the worst.
        In no world should it be acceptable.Also OP you originally thought this was harsh but fair, until it effected someone who’s situation you know personally, yet I wonder how many other employees have had equally good reasons to call out sick after a holiday.

        1. Sally*

          Totally agree with all of you.

          OP5, this policy your employers insist upon is ludicrous. I work in healthcare, too, and this is not the way to ensure coverage.

        2. lilsheba*

          I so agree with you. This is punitive, and I am so tired of seeing employers treat employees like children. This practice needs to just stop.

      2. ecnaseener*

        perhaps your PTO policies are somehow making it difficult for people to get the time off that they want so they’re having to resort to calling in “sick” to get the time off with their family.

        Yeah this made me think of all the teachers I know who get plenty of sick days but only like 2 personal days per year…surprise surprise, they use lots of sick days for personal time! (Especially during COVID when they needed time to get tested before the holidays.) The only difference is they can’t plan for the absence. It benefits no one.

        1. Silence Will Fall*

          Both contracts I worked under as a teacher had language specifically about missing the day before or after a school vacation period (Spring Break, etc.). Generally it wasn’t allowed and you could be penalized up to termination for doing it.

            1. Mental Lentil*

              It’s not an ugh, really.

              Imagine half the school taking the day before a holiday off and the other half taking the day after a holiday off. You simply can’t employ that number of substitute teachers because they don’t exist.

              Also, not much learning would happen on those two days, because again, substitute teachers.

              Sometimes these policies are not about the employees, but about the communities we serve.

              1. Anoni*

                I suspect it wouldn’t happen as much as the paranoid administrators think it would. Frequently they want us to imagine situations that have never existed to give it a thin veneer of reasonability. It’s not reasonable.

              2. Andy*

                Still wrong. It is in fact imaginary scenario. Half the school won’t fake emergency at the same time and if they do, you need to deal with several motivation/culture problem anyway. Meaning, I don’t believe the school where that many teachers would fake emergency at the same time has teachers motivated enough to teach kids.

              3. ecnaseener*

                The “ugh” was specifically about being terminated for it. I get the need to discourage it.

              4. Middle School Teacher*

                But that’s not how it works. In most jurisdictions you can only take that time if you can ensure sub coverage. No sub = you can’t take the day. Besides not a lot of learning gets done on those days anyway. A lot of kids are absent because “it’s right before (or after) the holidays.”

              5. Frauke*

                There are other ways to deal with it though. You can limit vacation time, but sick leave or emergency leave really can’t be forbidden (do you *want* a contagious/feverish/vomiting teacher in the class room?). Abuse and fake sick days can be prevented fairly easily by requiring a doctor’s note.

                Also, contrary to what it sometimes seems like, most people are reasonable and want to do a good job, so you won’t get half taking the day off unless morale is completely destroyed already.

                1. KittyCardigans*

                  Requiring a doctor’s note is a great way to ensure that your teachers come to school with minor illnesses. Not many people go to the doctor for a cold or an upset stomach.

            2. PT*

              Teachers do a *ton* of work, but their butt-in-seat hours are fairly light compared to most other full-time jobs. So it makes sense that they don’t get to take days out of class unless they are sick or have an emergency.

              1. GothicBee*

                I don’t see how having less butt-in-seat hours means you need less time off, and it’s only “less” in the sense that they get time out of the office during the summer. Teachers deserve to be able to take time off just like anyone else. I mean, sure I can see having limits on how much time you take off in a given school year or semester, but you’d think it would be preferable that they take scheduled time off so that they can plan for the absence vs. taking unplanned time off because they get so burned out they need to use an unplanned sick day.

                1. SpaceySteph*

                  On one hand I can see that a teacher doesn’t need 4 weeks of vacation (the max my company offers for those at the high end of years of service, people start with 2 weeks) because they already get 2 months off in the summer.

                  But 2 days is absolutely ridiculous; grandma’s milestone birthday or your best friend’s wedding can’t just be scheduled to fall during the summer vacation for a teacher’s convenience. That said, I have friends who are teachers and they all get a couple weeks personal time, not 2 days so this seems like one specific school district being particularly unreasonable.

                2. Imtheone*

                  Teachers don’t work in the summer vacation—but remember, they are also not paid then! Two months without pay!

                3. KittyCardigans*

                  I get two days (although I have a lot of sick time). My school is fairly reasonable and will work with you if things come up, but I personally feel that four or five days would be perfect. Two days is especially hard with weddings that are scheduled on Friday or Sunday instead of Saturday, which is a lot more common now than it used to be.

              2. Teacher*

                Yes, our butts are not in seats because we are standing and walking and walking and standing and teaching, for about 7 hours a day. And then we get butt-in-chairs time for planning, meeting with other faculty and parents, then if we’re lucky we get butt-in-bed time with our laptops open still answering emails and planning. YOU HAVE NO IDEA.

          1. Baffled Teacher*

            Yep, my contract says this too. In my old district you also couldn’t take personal days the last 10 days of school, which they apparently put in bc too many teachers were saving and using them for beach time (the coworker who told me this was like “it was meeeee lol”). You could use them if you asked admin permission way ahead of time for graduations, weddings, etc. I never saw one of those get denied.

          2. tamarack and fireweed*

            Yeah, that’s terrible. Making personal time off subject to authorization (and making it hard to get authorization for this kind of “essential coverage days”) makes sense, but not penalizing people for emergencies is going to create a lot of injustice and subsequent morale problems.

      3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        “If a lot of employees are doing it, perhaps your PTO policies are somehow making it difficult for people to get the time off that they want so they’re having to resort to calling in “sick” to get the time off with their family. ”

        I mean, yeah, that’s exactly the problem-people want to spend extended holidays with their families. The other half of the problem though, is that they CANNOT all have time off-patients are still sick on Christmas. Unless you can convince all the patients to magically get better on holidays, or are willing to leave them with no care, somebody’s gotta come in and work.

        1. Annie J*

          So incentivise it, pay double or time and a half for employees who do come in during the busiest periods in the holidays, and allow employees to buy and sell holidays around Christmas time, The last thing they should be doing is punishing people for getting sick after a holiday or, worse, possibly encouraging people to come in with the virus where there are vulnerable patients around.

        2. Sally*

          Err, maybe try paying double and triple time? Incentivise it. Make it worth people’s while to sacrifice that time.

          1. CmdrShepard*

            While I agree that this policy without exceptions for actual emergencies is harsh, I don’t know that I necessarily agree that it is harsh in general to try and discourage someone calling off (without actually being sick) before/after a holiday. If you go into the healthcare field especially a position that requires 24/7 care/coverage you should know what you are getting yourself into. You can be in healthcare (Dr. nurse etc…) and work regular 9 to 5 hours have holidays off, if you go into the right practice.

            1. GothicBee*

              That’s true with regard to 24/7 coverage, but it’s still probably better to incentivize working the holiday shifts because people who want them can volunteer for the shifts and then people who don’t want those shifts can have off. If you disincentivize calling out sick around the holidays, it’s going to negatively impact a lot of people who legitimately need to call out. Plus, people who are willing to take the hit to their paycheck will still call out sick.

              Either way you end up relying on people who are motivated financially to cover all the shifts around the holidays, so why not reward those people for working the less desirable shifts? Plus, that way you know that any of those people who end up calling out sick are *actually* sick and you can avoid punishing them for needing a legitimate sick day.

              1. PeanutButter*

                The hospitals I’ve worked in all had holiday incentive pay and catered meals for staff scheduled. I had no children/burning need to have my celebrations ON actual Christmas/Thanksgiving/etc so I volunteered a lot. It was very rare for someone to not get a holiday shift covered if they didn’t want it BECAUSE of the incentives.

        3. straws*

          yeah, there are multiple options besides this policy for ensuring staffing coverage. In addition to incentivizing, just… require that employees have to work a certain number of holidays each year (the # of holidays depending on size/need of the department). When my son was in the PICU over thanksgiving one year, we had some interesting discussions with his nurses. One of them always worked thanksgiving day so he knew he could get christmas off with his daughter. The evening nurse for that day always worked that shift because her family celebrated Thanksgiving breakfast her whole life and she had no need of the evening off. They all worked within the parameters they were given, everyone was satisfied, and coverage was met. Plus everyone had equal access to increased holiday pay. I was impressed with how they handled it. My husband’s on call schedule is similar – each tech is assigned 1 holiday at the beginning of the year. Christmas can only be assigned once every 3 years, and the techs can swap as much as they want, as long as they give their supervisor notice.

          1. Hanani*

            My dad’s and uncles’s respective call schedules were rotated like this, they took turns covering different holidays. My dad’s healthcare office tried (with everyone’s buy-in) to let parents with younger children off for an extra rotation for things like Christmas, but we just knew every couple years that a given holiday might be delayed to the evening or celebrated the next day. Sometimes my dad could trade with a colleague if one holiday was super important to one of them and unimportant to the other. My uncle’s was less predictable (snowplows, so all depended on snowfall), but generally the same result. My uncle got paid double time, my dad was salaried.

            1. FDS*

              Employers can’t favor employees with young children over others when it comes to scheduling otherwise it is considered discrimination.

              1. straws*

                I suspect that the employer was not mandating this, but that the employees were coming together to help one another. When I was childless, I frequently delayed my Christmas celebration so that my coworkers with children could spend that time with young kids. For those who celebrate Christmas, it’s only magical for the kids for so long before they’re too old. Did I deserve the time off as much as my coworkers? Of course. But I also had the right to swap shifts to allow those kids to have their parent home with them on a special day. It had very little to do with my employer, outside of them allowing shift swapping.

              2. Joy-Z*

                I don’t think childlessness is a protected class…so in the US, at least, employers can absolutely discriminate against people without kids.

          2. Jam Today*

            “One of them always worked thanksgiving day so he knew he could get christmas off with his daughter. The evening nurse for that day always worked that shift because her family celebrated Thanksgiving breakfast her whole life and she had no need of the evening off. They all worked within the parameters they were given”

            One fascinating artifact of COVID has been all the people complaining about not being able to travel for holidays with their families, and how it revealed to me anyway just how many people in this country are essentially invisible to their fellow citizens. Tens of thousands of people (millions?) *never* get to travel to see their families on holidays, and its as if the complainers never even noticed they have been there the whole time. They’re just part of the landscape, from doctors and nurses to grocery store workers to garbage collectors to power company employees. These people have always been there, always arranged their lives so that they can be fulfilled and enjoy their family life, and adapted to circumstances. Didn’t anyone know they were there? I guarantee they’d notice it immediately if they were gone…

            1. CmdrShepard*

              I agree with “how it revealed to me anyway just how many people in this country are essentially invisible to their fellow citizens.” In terms of how many positions are essential to the running of our society. But I disagree with this part “Tens of thousands of people (millions?) *never* get to travel to see their families on holidays, and its as if the complainers never even noticed they have been there the whole time. They’re just part of the landscape, from doctors and nurses to grocery store workers to garbage collectors to power company employees.” Yes most of those positions usually require round the clock coverage even on Thanksgiving, xmas etc… But it is not true that the actual employees *never* get to take certain holidays off, sure they might have to work some holidays but might not be able to get all holidays off. The power company might have minimum staffing requirements but for the holidays it is likely only some people will have to be on shift/call while other employees enjoy the holiday. Doctors and nurses they don’t all work all holidays, usually it rotates.

              1. Drea*

                I’m sure this is true for doctors, but I can confirm that working retail, no one at all in the stores I worked got Thanksgiving off because we needed to prepare for Black Friday and no one got the day before or after Christmas off, which absolutely precluded travel of any distance for Chirstmas.

                1. CmdrShepard*

                  You are right there are probably some retail employees that don’t ever get Thanksgiving/X-mas off. But I used to work at one of the major big box retailers ( I would say the name but I don’t want to put a target on my back) and yes the time around Thanksgiving/X-mas were blackout dates, but I and other co-workers still managed to get time off during Thanksgiving/X-mas. I worked at four different locations of the same chain, in the 10 years I worked for the chain I think I only worked one maybe two black fridays. While I was in college, I never had trouble getting the entirety of winter break (4 to 5 weeks) off to go back home. Even after I graduated I was still able to get time off during Thanksgiving/X-mas to go back home.

                  I know my experience is not the same for everyone, but the one chain I worked at was flexible even during the black out times.

              2. Esmae*

                I’ve worked retail jobs that didn’t allow time off requests the week of Christmas or Thanksgiving. And since those are the busiest times for retail, it wasn’t at all unusual for all staff to actually be working. So, yeah, if you worked at one of them for any length of time it was entirely possible that you’d never get to travel on major holidays.

            2. SpaceySteph*

              As a member of a minority religion who never has convenient breaks for my holidays, I have long been aware of this. I almost never spend major Jewish holidays with my family because they are inconveniently scheduled on a Tuesday all the time.

              On the other hand, my dad is a Dr. and benefitted from being a minority religion. He worked Christmas call but had an easy time taking Jewish holidays off.

          3. A Simple Narwhal*

            Yup my mom is a nurse and does something similar – they’re required to work at least one of the major holidays each year, and she always chose Thanksgiving to guarantee Christmas off. And since New Years Eve/Day wasn’t really important to her she would happily work those as well, earning holiday bonus pay as well as gratitude from coworkers she covered for.

          4. Kella*

            Yes, this is exactly what I’m talking about. Obviously, if you need 24/7 coverage, there’s no way to make sure everyone gets time off around the holidays. But if people are calling out before and after holidays a lot, that makes me wonder if the system that determines *who* gets holiday time off is not working well. Like, is there an even rotation or is first come first served, and first is always folks who work in a nearby department? Or are managers getting first dibs? Or is there an equally distributed rotation but no flexibility given for people to swap shifts if one person is fine working the holiday and another really wants to see their family? There are lots of possibilities for how to make it easier or harder to meet people’s time off needs around holidays.

            1. Not Golden*

              Bingo. I like my company’s current process. We used to have a manager (my grand-boss) who was absolutely wedded to seniority-above-all, which really wasn’t so hot for morale because the same people *always* got the extra days around holidays off, and there wasn’t a hope for change until some of them retired (by which point I would have had 10+ years on the job based on how many of them needed to retire before I’d have moved up enough to have a shot at getting a request approved if the golden senior set wanted the same thing that I did). The new policy is far more equitable: there are days which are marked as “skeleton crew” required, which equals just under half of the staff. Those who put in requests but were denied because they were just behind the first ones (some of whom had put in their requests in January 2 for Thanksgiving and Christmas of that calendar year). Year two, anyone who had requested the extra days in year one and were denied were automatically at the top of the approval list. Because the required-to-be-present was just under half of all of us, you were guaranteed to get your request approved at least every other year (and for some, when it’s less important to other people, you can get it every year, but you never end up working the extra time every year unless you want to). I think that system could even work with 24/7 coverage, as long as the required presence for a “skeleton crew” didn’t exceed 50%.

            2. Midwestern Scientist*

              I worked at a veterinarian/groomer/boarding facility in high school/college and obviously we were open 365 days a year in some capacity. For major US holidays, we scheduled a morning shift and an evening shift. Each tech could request 2 holiday shifts off per year with no more than 3 people requesting the same shift off. It was super easy for everyone to request their most important holidays off and since we were mostly young people (though not exclusively) it was also easy to get holiday shifts covered (pay was time and a half). Christmas is the big holiday for my extended family and I don’t think I worked on Christmas the whole time I was there. I would request off for the morning shift and if I happened to be scheduled for the evening shift it was very possible to find coverage. I frequently swapped a Christmas Eve/Day for a New Years Eve. Less punitive policies = happier workers.

    2. WS*

      Also in healthcare and while that would be illegal in my country, we do try to have an absolute minimum of people out around a holiday – for example, no medical certificate needed for a regular sick day (up to your usual total) but you do need it if you take a high priority day off, which are the days before, of and after a public holiday, and 23rd December to 3rd January if it’s your turn to work those days this year. And, as usual in healthcare, letting other people down by not giving notice is very badly looked upon when you need someone to cover for you later.

      (If people don’t realise how seriously this is taken in healthcare: I had a colleague die in a car accident and people still speak of her approvingly because she died on the first day of a planned two-week break, meaning it was easy to get someone in to replace her.)

      But that doesn’t mean there’s never a legitimate emergency! Unless your workplace has set this in stone and you’re sure it’s legal and can’t be changed, I think you should argue for genuine emergencies – backed up by documentation – to be exempt from the policy.

      1. Krabby*

        Okay, the bit about the coworking dying is nutty, lol, but the rest seems like a really good compromise for jobs where coverage is that important.

      2. Washi*

        Yeah, for anyone commenting about how draconian this is…it would be in any other setting, but in healthcare it really doesn’t surprise me. When someone calls out unexpectedly, patient care suffers. Especially with the nursing shortages right now, when someone calls out at my job, it means that some of our patients don’t get seen that day. Literally every healthcare org in my region is dealing with this and it sucks for everyone.

        That said, since healthcare workers are in such high demand, they would do well to consider retention in how they apply the policy. And my job doesn’t happen to have a policy like this, but I’m not particularly surprised this rule exists.

      3. Your Local Password Resetter*

        Thats really twisted tbh.
        Im alwo not sure how this policy ensures coverage. Its not like people will just ignore real illnessess or emergencies for a days wages. And even if they do, it’s going to backfire in the long run to do that.

        1. ROUS*

          They 100% will ignore real illnesses and injuries for wages. I’m not sure if you’re American, but a huge proportion of our workers work sick.

          1. SpaceySteph*

            I had covid in December. It was a relatively minor case and the whole time I’m quarantined, I was reflecting that I ABSOLUTELY had gone to work sicker in the before-times. If I call out, someone else has to cover my shift. I had a D&C for a missed miscarriage and went to work the next day because I had a shift.

            And I really have no hope for a change once this is past… I actually worked almost full time hours from home while sick with covid and quarantined with my 2 kids, because I had deadlines.

            And I have no hope for a change because even now once you get 7 days and a negative test you’re back on the roster and nobody

        2. Silence Will Fall*

          I worked for several weeks with mono because I didn’t have PTO and couldn’t afford to not work. I basically have no memory of October/November one year.

        3. Spotted Kitty*

          I went back to work way too early after a surgery because I didn’t have enough sick time to cover it.

        4. N.J.*

          I have worked in call centers and others hourly wage positions on and off. You better bet that they will come in to work with pneumonia, bronchitis, fevers etc. if they don’t get paid, they don’t eat, they don’t have money to pay their exorbitant rent prices etc. in the U.S. thus is very, very common for working class folks to suffer through.

      4. sb51*

        Yeah, my sister is in health care and they had to scramble this past spring from a problem of their (the employer, not the individual employees): they gave entire divisions their vaccinations on the same day, and then had enough people down with vaccination side effects at the same time to be an issue. Oops.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          I’m glad they vaccinated them as fast as they could though.

          I was running vaccine clinics that suggested people wait until they had the next day off for their vaccination. I talked a lot of the people I was supervising to get vaccinated the first day anyway. They were getting a lot of exposure, and I don’t want people getting severely ill when it could have been preventable.
          However, if they could have spread it out among divisions (so like… use up all the allotted vaccines, but vaccinate half of twice the number of divisions), that would have been a better plan.

    3. wayward*

      I was wondering if that policy meant that someone with an infectious disease had to show up for work anyhow if they didn’t want to get docked pay. Seems like that’s how it works in the food service industry too.

    4. A Fish*

      I’m appalled to learn this is a thing anywhere! Is it just in the US or other countries too? I know it doesn’t exist in my country.

      Whoever implements this rule seems to be starting out on a really paranoid basis that most people take personal leave for frivolous reasons. And then they proceed to heartlessly punish the majority of people who are doing the right thing to get to the tiny minority who don’t.

      I couldn’t live with myself if I made life more difficult for someone who had just experienced a terrible crisis. How would you feel about applying this policy to someone whose partner, child or parent had just died? Or who had suffered from a stroke or heart attack or had been diagnosed with cancer? So instead of being able to completely focus on the emergency, they also needed to worry about how they were going to pay their mortgage or rent and buy food? It’s disgusting.

      And for cases where people have food poisoning or the flu or a migraine or whatever, what are they expected to do? Make a choice between working sick (obviously not desirable) and being able to buy food?

      How does the policy work for people with chronic health conditions that flare up relatively regularly and without warning? It must make it very stressful for them to take holidays.

      1. A Fish*

        To be clear, I meant the universal ‘you’ rather than the letter writer who is simply navigating the system in which they exist. While I HATE this policy and think it’s as stupid as it is inhumane, I wasn’t trying to phrase my post as some kind of confrontation aimed at LW5.

        I hope LW and colleagues are able to push back against the policy. Although understand that may not work if it’s culturally ingrained in the US healthcare sector. LW5 points out that they are questioning whether it is harsh but fair. I don’t think it is. It’s a poorly devised and deeply unethical policy that LW unfortunately may not be able to change.

      2. münchner kindl*

        In my country (EU), paid vacation is mandated by federal law as 24 days (minimum) and seperate from days off for sickness (paid by health insurance).

        There have been lots of cases for Work courts on what employees and employers are allowed to do/ must do/ are forbidden from doing when a planned vacation collides with being sick, and now whenever summer and main vacation time comes around, media prints FAQ on what to do if you get sick during vacation: get a proof from your doctor, tell your employer, then the sick days will count as those and not as vacation days.

        To retroactivly take away a paid and agreed vacation would be ruled theft here and employer punished.

        As for industries that must provide coverage: any employee can fall sick at any time, that’s what happens to humans, so when scheduling vacation, employer must plan buffer. That’s good management.

      3. Koala dreams*

        In my country you can’t have a policy like this, there are laws about vacation and sick pay, but there are many stories of managers in healthcare pressuring ill employees to come to work sick, with the same bad arguments about coverage and solidarity to co-workers/patients. And yes, it doesn’t work. People burn out and leave the industry. So we have a shortage of health care workers.
        /From Europe

    5. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      I’ve had this almost happen to me, and it’s demoralizing as h€[[. I received an injury on July 4th ( U.S. national holiday) and had to call out on the 5th. This policy was in place unless there was a legit reason for it. Fortunately, my injuries spoke for themselves and I did receive my holiday pay.

      1. LavaLamp*

        This policy was a thing at my last job, but it was manager discretion. So the only time people got docked was when there was an attendance policy and often times not even then. It was always there as a way to mitigate attendance issues, but was rarely if ever enforced in my experience. Especially if you had a doctors note, or something.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          This is the way I’ve always experienced it too. I’ve only seen it enforced with zeal when people who requested the holiday off & didn’t get it then call in sick. Even then, it’s been at the manager’s discretion.

      2. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

        I worked at a place with a policy like this and the job also paid piece rate with Mondays being the the day of the week you made the most $. One year Christmas fell on a weekend. You had to work Friday and Monday to get Holiday pay. I worked Friday. Went to the extended family holiday. One Auntie had a horrible stomach virus but came to the family holiday anyway claiming it was just “something she ate” She looked and smelled like death warmed over and made frequent bathroom trips the whole day. Lucky me ended up catching a 12 hour tummy flue. One of those that kept you in the bathroom for most of the day praying for death as everything you’ve ever eaten comes out 1 end or the other. I missed work that Monday. Lost the holiday pay and a good 1/3 of my paycheck since Mondays tend to be your highest count days. That was 20 years ago and I’m still salty about it! If I ever become Patient Zero I will make sure this particular Auntie is Patient One.

    6. Virginia Plain*

      This policy effectively states quite clearly that you think all staff calling in sick/with an emergency situation are lying/faking. If you think some are acting dishonestly, by all means address that professionally. But you can and should do so without a)insulting your honest staff by calling them liars, b) penalising s as genuinely ill person or one already suffering an emergency situation or c) compromising staff welfare (and effectiveness) and workplace health and safety by forcing an ill/in pain/infectious person to work.
      In healthcare scenario (!) surely you should be promoting good health and safety practices and concern for people’s welfare, not promoting a message of, we don’t believe our staff when they report illness.

      1. Delia K*

        I also work in healthcare (in the US) and we had this policy – although I’m not sure if it was ever enforced. I didn’t read it as they think all staff calling in are lying, but they did allow as many people as possible off around holidays, which then meant that if anyone called in it really did make us short staffed. So yes – they did want people who are ill/in pain/etc to come in. The alternative would be approving fewer time off requests in advance of the holiday to accommodate people calling out.

        1. Artemesia*

          Everyone’ dream of medical care — they are badly injured or seriously ill or just delivered a baby in the hospital and their caregiver gives them norovirus or flu or some other serious contagious illness that is the coup de grace.

          1. Red Swedish Fish*

            That’s your cause and effect side but the other alternative do you think its their dream of medical care that they deliver the baby themselves, or die from the injury because the ER is not staffed enough to get to everyone. There is not a good outcome for understaffed medical or for the medical staff working sick.

            1. Snailing*

              But there doesn’t have to be either situation. The practice/hospital should approve fewer PTO requests for those days so they have a cushion for emergencies. In these situations, these companies are penalizing both/either clients and/or employees and taking none of the brunt themselves.

              1. Anoni*

                The healthcare industry in the US is bad, and the hospital administration is most often at fault. Healthcare is suffering a HUGE shortage right now. It’s a combination of budgetary cuts, staffing shortage (due to both deaths from COVID and nurses, other folk GTFO after COVID, as well as Boomer retirements). So, you have a system that puts profit over safety/sufficient staffing, the need to give staff their allotted time off, which is often required through union contracts, AND a massive shortage. That cushion for emergencies that you refer to is almost non-existent in the best circumstances. Right now it’s a very thin cushion indeed.

                1. Washi*

                  Yes. I work in healthcare in a generally rural area and there is such a shortage of healthcare workers that there is basically no cushion for when people call out unexpectedly. We area already offering 2x regular pay for picking up shifts, and in the staff area of every single nursing home you see notices of 2-3x pay for picking up a shift, and it still isn’t enough. And healthcare nonprofit orgs like mine can only go so high on the financial incentives because we are funded by Medicare, which has a set reimbursement rate for the services we offer. Literally, administrative staff who happen to have RN degrees are sometimes seeing patients now.

                  I mean, all of that makes retention and not penalizing someone for having a family emergency even more important because you can afford them leaving way less than you can afford their emergency. BUT there is more to this than stingy companies not wanting to pay. At least in my organization, we are stuck up a creek and there is no immediate solution in sight. It’s super stressful for us and even worse for patients who have visits canceled on short notice.

                2. PeanutButter*

                  I remember when an admin went on a rant at my hospital about how they couldn’t get anyone to work extra shifts/come in on short notice without pay incentives…like yeah, that’s how it works. You want to disrupt my schedule you’re going to pay up. Maybe if you actually followed staffing guidelines that utilize on-call staff and account for call-outs/no shows you wouldn’t be paying so much OCCI/overtime/call-in.

                3. PSU RN*

                  Just wanted to add this is 100% correct. Even for post acute care, Skilled facility/rehab and home health care and hospice are short staffed-turning away admissions for lack of staff.

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          What you call the “alternative” is how it’s been handled by every employer I had in Germany or France.

          And I prefer this – If an employer needs X% (eg. 50%) of their staff present, and experience means Y% m(eg 5-10%) may be out due to illness or emergency, it makes sense to only allow the number of staff to take that day off according to some formula ( (100 – X – Y)% for example, or (100 – X (1 + Y %)) % or something along these lines).

          This tends to make booking holidays less flexible, but you know it beforehand and understand that it serves to discourage morale-sapping harshness in policies. (Of course then you need a very fair system for who gets priority, as others have discussed.)

    7. Koala dreams*

      It’s not only harsh, there’s also the problem that this kind of policy contributes to spread of contagious illness. Which is extra bad in healthcare. If an employee falls sick near a holiday and can’t afford to miss work, and then goes to work and the illness spreads to co-workers and patients, it’ll be worse than just having to cover a couple of shifts.

      I have hoped that the pandemic would make healthcare management re-consider these kind of policies, but unfortunately, no.

    8. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

      Ugh, I got THE WORST food poisoning/flu right after Christmas a few years ago. The company I worked for had this policy on the books, but thankfully didn’t enforce it unless it needed to.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Oh yeah, I’ve had food poisoning the day after a major holiday a couple of times. It’s not uncommon, with so much going on in terms of food preparation, for something to go wrong, and next thing you know, something is contaminated or has spent too long in the temperature danger zone or something.

    9. Lucy P*

      We have this policy, it generally sucks, but we do offer leeway. A few examples I can think of…first time morning sickness (literally the first day), future father-in-law in the hospital on their deathbed (although thankfully the gentlemen survived and the employee broke up with the significant other shortly thereafter), family member having surgery the day after a holiday. We may also have had one or two cases of illness. From what I can recall, one was forgiven, the other, because of the frequency of absenteeism on multiple occasions, had to take leave for the holiday.
      We used to allow people to take off before or after if it was pre-approved, but that has since changed. I’ve been petitioning for a change in the rule with minimal success.

    10. Momma Bear*

      I think it’s an unfair practice. A paid holiday is a paid holiday. Either you observe it or you don’t. What is the point of this policy? It seems unnecessarily punitive. I get that maybe your company wants to ensure coverage, but crap happens all year long. Why is this different? I often find with harsh and weird policies that there’s a story behind it that maybe should be revisited. Shouldn’t punish people forever because one person five years ago was untrustworthy.

    11. Pants*

      Many staffing agencies in the US (at least in Texas) have this policy too. Even if you’ve gotten the green light from their client, the company the employee is working for. It sucks. Being a contractor and going on any sort of holiday, you basically have to pay for it twice. The money for the actual holiday, as well as the unpaid days you’ll be missing. It’s my least favourite part of contracting.

    12. Deborah*

      I’ve worked hourly jobs for 20 years, and I don’t recall even once someone calling out around a holiday just to get a longer holiday. People who call out like that exist, but they just aren’t that common and you know who they are because they do it all the time. As long as you are reasonable about letting people take PTO around holidays, you’ll be fine.

      1. La Triviata*

        I work in a non-essential field, so if someone extends their holiday or vacation, it’s not a life or death situation. However, one co-worker used to go on vacation and, inevitably, the day they were due back would call and have an emergency that prevented them from coming back on schedule. It could be a transportation snafu, their car broke down, etc., but it was every time they went on vacation. Again – not a life or death situation, but it was inconvenient and put an extra burden on the other people in the office. They’re still working here and have stopped doing this every time, but it went on for several years.

      2. Red Swedish Fish*

        I’d say you just didn’t know they did. I know people 3 did from our 4th of July Pool party (they stayed an extra night at the lake and called in sick.

    13. Donkey Hotey*

      My heart goes out to the OP.
      AND I really wish my previous employer had had this policy. I had a co-worker whose child would invariably and miraculously develop pink-eye on the Friday before a three-day weekend. We’re talking 4+ times a year, every year, and always on the Friday before.

    14. Mollymauk Tealeaf*

      We had this happen with an exempt employee with blood poisoning who was in the hospital and the company refused to pay her for the holiday as she’d run out of PTO. They acted like they were shocked when she got a new job not long after coming back.

    15. RosyGlasses*

      This is really really common in manufacturing settings and I cannot wrap my head around it (I mean, tbh I can’t wrap my mind around most manufacturing policies).

    16. Leishycat*

      My employer has a similar policy. I get frequent enough migraines that I usually end up burning through my PTO by October or November even without using my vacation/annual time for pleasure, so I’m also on FMLA. This past year I ended up getting one Christmas weekend, which wasn’t gone by the first day back afterward, so I called off. I figured I wouldn’t get paid for my day off because of the migraine, but would still get my holiday pay for Christmas… Nope, the policy bit me and I almost didn’t make rent the next month.

    17. Ladycrim*

      Yes, this. One year I woke up the day after Christmas with a fever of 102. No way could I go into work. I did have to present a doctor’s note for my absence (which was fine; I definitely wanted to go to the doctor!), but they wouldn’t have docked my pay for the holiday. This policy needs exceptions for genuine emergencies.

  2. Tracey*

    The manager trying to change the name of the department and the passive aggressive “you’re entry level” description this persons used are red flags.
    Trying to be more efficient is one thing but this person sounds like they’re obsessed with something that is not worth their or your time.
    If I could I’d tell him to focus more on what his team can contribute and building relationships rather than team names and trying to make your team look small.

    1. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

      Sometimes when someone is new in a job, they try too hard to make their mark and jump right in, try to look important, and forcefully push their way through instead of observing first and getting a feel for the company culture and how everyone works. It’s super annoying. Definitely talk to someone who can reign this person in. They can have a terrible effect on morale.

      1. AskJeeves*

        Yes! He sounds extremely territorial and like the type of new manager who is desperate to “shake things up” just to feel important or appear successful to the higher-ups. So annoying, disruptive, and bad for morale. The insistence that LW’s team is entry-level is especially bad — he wants to look important by downgrading others.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Memories of the new guy we got as a manager a few firms ago who wanted to change the name of my department from ‘Technical Support’ to ‘Customer Service’ because he wanted his team of developers to have the only ‘technical’ title.

      Although in our case it lasted barely one meeting before he got the glare of death and a very cold ‘no, that’s not happening’ from the evil head of technical support. I also pointed out that if they wanted to take our title/email address/phone number then they’d have to take all our calls too – every single one no matter how ‘banal’ they found them.

      (And yeah, sandwich in CD drive was one we got. Doubted his dev team would’ve loved being distracted from coding by stuff like that)

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        This was exactly what happened at a place I worked for. We used to have “inside sales” and “outside sales” where the former sat in cubicles and answered calls from customers, and the latter would travel to customer sites. After a new management team took control, “inside sales” became “customer service,” and the people in that department were essentially demoted to call-center-like jobs where they would enter incoming orders into our computer system, but do little else. They were directed to only answer questions if the answer was on the publically available documentation on our website, or otherwise pass the question on to the technical team, even though these people had many years of experience answering technical questions about our products. After this change, new hires in “customer service” were essentially call-center workers, but the long-timers were severely demoralized.

        My advice to the LW is to get out – I strongly suspect that the support people for the industrial teapot business will be the only ones getting any respect going forward, and your department is going to be like working in a minimum-wage call-center.

        1. MassMatt*

          If this is an attempt by the new manager to grow his fiefdom at the expense of others, there’s always the option of fighting fire with fire. Refer to his group as a “subdepartment”, comment on his decisions with things like “we’ll have to think about that” implying they are subject to your approval, and insert yourself between him and whomever his direct manager is. Two can play this game.

        2. anah*

          This has just happened to my job and it is so demoralizing. Did anyone ever push back successfully?

          1. Junior Assistant Peon*

            No, unfortunately. Of the longtime inside salespeople, a few left quickly, one changed departments, one retired, and one finally left very recently after several years of openly displaying his contempt for the company (I’m amazed he never got fired). The newer people didn’t mind because they knew they were being hired for customer service rep positions.

      2. Artemesia*

        when I first started working as a high school teacher in 1966, we had these orientation, back to school meetings for staff. I will never forget the half hour devoted to a pompous head of counseling at the school who blathered on and on and on about how his office was no longer ‘counseling’ but rather ‘pupil personnel services’. and why this was so very very very important. This guy was someone who had been my own favorite teacher in junior high school at a nearby school district — I was so disappointed in him.

        1. Summer Smile*

          I am also a teacher. About twenty or so years ago a new hire to our faculty went around telling fellow faculty members that he was an “administrator” in charge of various things. Every time he was randomly put into a group, he declared that he was the “administrator” in charge of whatever group it was. Several of us were temporarily teaching in mobile units (trailers) and he decided that he was in charge of all the mobile units. He also was one of several teachers asked to supervise lunch — So, he told everyone that he was the “lead” lunch supervisor. The entire faculty was asked to make certain that our classrooms were locked at the end of each day and, of course, this guy decided that he was “in charge” of checking on this. He used to send out emails recommending that we attend various trainings and conferences. He would also send out emails reprimanding other faculty. His signature included a title along the lines of “Administrator in charge of Mobile Units, Lunch, and Doors.”

          This guy was NOT an administrator. He was never an administrator. He never had any authority over any other faculty member. He was NOT even a Department Head. He was a regular faculty member, no higher or lower than anyone else. And this was his first year on staff. LOL This guy was either Dwight Schrute or completely delusional. I believe he wanted to impress the true administration by trying to control the rest of the faculty with his put downs, directives, and condescension. I ignored him. Several faculty members ridiculed him.

          His contract was NOT renewed.

          1. Junior Assistant Peon*

            I have to give him credit for being ballsy enough to try this! I’ve often wondered whether someone was really “in charge” of something at work, or if they just appointed themselves and no one noticed. I’ve pulled a bit of this on a much milder scale during periods of management turnover when no one was sure who was in charge of what.

    3. Momma Bear*

      I would be especially irritable about the implication that you are not the level you are at. He’s trying to bring you down for whatever reason. Even though he’s important to growth, you should all be a team vs him trying to squash another department. I’d push back on what your duties actually are and what your name is. He has an agenda and it’s not good.

    4. Web of Pies*

      I’ve worked with this exact type of person before. He could be a weirdo pedant or he could be working on a power grab. The one I knew did really similar things while also schmoozing with the owners like “seeeeee how much “Teapot SERVICE” makes seeeense? I mean like do we even NEED Service now that we have Industrial?” Now he is literally president of Teapot Supply Co. and there is no Teapot Support division, the entire company pivoted to Industrial tea machines.

      It also came with a side of him scheming (successfully) to get all the Support people fired one by one, though luckily I got out of there before he could get me.

  3. Certaintroublemaker*

    LW3, the new guy is crazypants. From an end user point of view, Industrial Tea Machine Support is the correct name for his team and Teapot Support is the correct name for yours. From a corporate point of view, he doesn’t have the standing to just change that. You or your manager need to go to the leadership over him and have them clarify the team names.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Right? What customer is going to distinguish between Teapot Service and Teapot Support? They sound totally the same to me and it wouldn’t be clear that one was regular and one was industrial at all.

      1. OhNo*

        Have to agree. What the new team manager thinks the department names should be doesn’t matter – all that matters is what the customers think the department names mean. If I were a customer, all I care about is which group is industrial-focused and which one isn’t, so I know which one to call.

        I also suspect this guy doesn’t actually know what should go into changing a team name for a department that works with external groups, especially customers. It’s a pain! There is often a ton of communication before, during, and after the change, a whole promotion or marketing plan for the newly-named group, and just a ton of stuff that goes into making a change like that actually happen. Otherwise there are likely to be way too many confused customers, misdirected calls, and frustration both inside and outside the company. It’s just not worth it to soothe his fragile ego.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      I can see an argument that if Teapot Support now only handles calls about home teapots, changing its name to Home Teapot Support might make sense, making it easier for customers to figure out who to call. But it sounds like Teapot Support is still the first line for all calls.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        That’s how I read it to. Customer calls in to Teapot Support, states problem and dispatcher responds “OK, let me transfer you to Industrial Teapot Support”. Seems like new manager is making issues where none exist.

  4. Jay*

    To #3:
    This happened to a former girlfriend of mine some years ago. I don’t want to give too many specifics as it was kind of a big deal in her industry.
    She was a mid level technician in, lets call it Llama Grooming.
    There was a natural split in the profession, with one unit branching off to form it’s own new thing. Call it “Llama Grooming Products”.
    The new head of Llama Grooming Products then began a campaign to redefine Llama Grooming.
    They managed to get out of touch senior managers to see Llama Grooming as an “entry level” profession. The department was gutted over a period of a couple of years, with well paid and experienced technicians having their jobs “reengineered” to the bottom, with pay and benefits slashed. Both departments were placed under the Llama Grooming Products head, who got a pretty massive promotion out of the deal.
    Naturally, everyone who could quit did, but the Great Recession was still going on (although nearing it’s end) and many skilled professionals had no choice but to endure the abuse for a couple of extra years, giving a false appearance of success.
    Best of luck to you and I hope you are only dealing with a relatively harmless blowhard not a would-be Corporate Buccaneer with a plan.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Yes, I also had the vibe that this guy may be plotting a ‘hostile takeover’ of sorts. Step 1 discredit the value of the team in everyone’s eyes, step 2 get it merged into one big team with him as the head.

      1. Good Vibes Steve*

        I’ve seen this happen in the past, and it’s so frustrating when it unfolds and you feel powerless to change the course of it. Has anyone successfully stopped this kind of takeover and would be willing to share the details of how they did it?

        1. NoviceManagerGuy*

          I would hope that the LW’s boss and this new guy have the same boss, who can tell the new guy to mind his own business and stop trying to change the corporate structure.

          1. Yorick*

            It sounds like they don’t. It sounds like the new Industrial Teapot Support is part of the now-bigger Industrial Teapot side, rather than being under whatever VP the existing customer support department was part of.

            It sounds like the Industrial Teapot Support team SHOULD be a specialized team within the same department as OP, but isn’t.

    2. Snow Globe*

      Very good example of why this is not a petty issue. The biggest concern I see is that the new manager keeps implying that the Teapot Support department are “entry-level”. That can be bad if people start to view the department that way.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, I think given this guy’s persistence I would talk to someone higher up rather than bringing the issue up with him (or at least not *just* bringing it up with him). I would want to check in with upper management that they definitely don’t have plans to rename everything or to do any restructuring. If you are a manager, you could maybe say that this guy’s insistence that things are changing has some of your team worried and that might help get someone to step in make him stop.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        I wondered whether it had come from higher-up management, and agree it is definitely worth bringing up with them. I don’t think it originates there in this case though, because the OP said “I also found out he tried to change another team’s name that sounded somewhat similar to his!” (which I took to mean that he tried but -wasn’t successful-).

  5. Sarana*

    LW2: Sounds like the art college is more or less directly sending these students your way. Perhaps contact them and tell them how it’s actually going and not helping the students at all, quite the opposite. They need to find then different ways for the students to progress.

    1. John Smith*

      I finding it difficult to reconcile the bit about getting a job through luck as much as skill with the rest of the letter.

      1. MK*

        Why? Unless you are interpreting this to mean that it’s more important to be lucky than talented, which is a common attitude, when what it means is that there are more equally talented candidates than there are jobs for them, so which ones can come down to luck.

        Life isn’t the Olympics, where you can measure people’s performance to a tiny fraction and reward the one who did best. There are levels of excellence, but you get a lot of people who are more or less equally good, and being a tiny fraction better than your peers doesn’t really matter.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          I like how Michael McDonough sums it up in his article ‘The Top 10 Things They Never Taught Me in Design School’. It’s an oldie but a goodie – still as relevant as it ever was – and applies to almost every kind of creative profession.

          Talent is one-third of the success equation.
          Talent is important in any profession, but it is no guarantee of success. Hard work and luck are equally important. Hard work means self-discipline and sacrifice. Luck means, among other things, access to power, whether it is social contacts or money or timing. In fact, if you are not very talented, you can still succeed by emphasizing the other two. If you think I am wrong, just look around.

          1. Esmeralda*

            Right. And the students are trying to get “access to power” — network with an alum from their school.

            I completely understand the OP’s frustration with getting so many of these contacts. However, I’m put off by this statement: “I’m sick of being treated like their special connection to a job. We aren’t the only studio in existence.” I’m sure the students, most of them anyway, are not contacting ONLY the OP; they’re well aware that there’s more than one studio out there. And, OP, you ARE a special connection — you’re an alum. You got your job, I presume, because you were talented and you were lucky, and maybe also you had access of some sort.

            Now, if the students are being pesky, and especially if they’re bombarding your social media, then you could : 1. Just ignore them / block them. I’d say for especially egregious offenders, sure. 2. Make an FAQ as Alison suggests. Make a template email response with a link to the FAQ. Save out 15 minutes / week (or every two weeks) to go through and send the template email.

            After that, the OP can just scroll on by. Or block them!

        2. Person from the Resume*

          But this art job is more akin to the NFL or other professional sports league. Not everyone can be a superstar, but a lot, a lot of college players are good enough to on and do a decent job in the NFL but the number of teams limit the roster slots. Making the NFL require talent and hard work, but there’s also just the luck portion that you’re selected because a team needs your skillset and your college career attracted enough attention that you’re known enough to be a consideration.

          Look at Joe Burrows who was drafted #1 in the 2020 draft. In his college career at Ohio State he was redshirted, spent 2 years as a backup and then realized that he would remain a backup at Ohio. He transferred to LSU where he got the starting job. He has a decent first year at LSU and an amazing, award winning second year after which he was drafted in the first round.

          If he had stated at Ohio State, he would not have been less talented or hardworking, but he was unlikely to have been given the chance to shine at a starting QB. He’s an extreme example of someone who ended up being a superstar. There’s lots more players who could play in the NFL and do well than are ever selected for the league. It’s a lot of luck.

        3. Artemesia*

          which is all the more reason for candidates to use everything they can think of to get a foot in the door including gumption —

      2. Weegie*

        Agree with MK – this is normal for the creative arts, where there are literally thousands of equally talented people competing for the same jobs and luck very much plays a part in who gets hired and who doesn’t. Go back a little way in the AAM archives and look at the person trying to get a writing job: the comments are instructive.

      3. ecnaseener*

        What do you find difficult to reconcile? Genuinely trying to understand what else LW said in the letter that you could interpret as contradicting that statement.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Luck means networking and having contacts in the field. OP is saying she doesn’t want to keep in touch and network with the students. So how are they supposed to luck into the field?

          The students are told to reach out and make contacts. They are trying in their bumbling student way. OP finds it annoying. So annoying that she will not consider the students who keep reaching out in the future.

          I get OP’s frustration. As she says, she’s not the only studio around. But because she went to the school and is seen as a SUCCESS, the students are told to emulate her. Which they do by reaching out.

          there needs to be a happy medium. The school needs to teach the PROPER way to network and make contacts. The OP needs to realize that students are trying to get lucky and just a blanket dismissal is not a good solution.

          1. MK*

            Eh, no, that’s not what luck means. Networking and contacts are things you make happen for yourself; there is an element of luck in having the kind of background that makes it easier, and the total outliers of, say, getting stuck in an elevator with the CEO of your dream company and impressing them. Luck is being one of 10 equally qualified candidates and getting the job because you had a great interview day or vibed better with the team or happened to have a side skill they thought might come in useful (even if you never actually use it in the job).

            1. Person from the Resume*

              Luck also means graduating and job hunting for art jobs at the time that one of these salaried art jobs with upward mobility is hiring.

            2. ecnaseener*

              Okay yeah that’s closer to my interpretation as well. Especially the type of networking these grads are trying to do, it’s clearly not the luck-based kind.

            3. MassMatt*

              If 2 young people are building a network for a job in the arts and one of them comes from a very modest background and the other’s dad is the director of the Metropolitan Museum, guess which one has the better network? Sure, the one whose dad is Mister Art will probably attribute their success to hard work (and maybe they are hard working) but realistically that’s based on luck; the accident of birth.

              1. MK*

                Yes, but that’s not luck, that’s privilege. And you can say that being born into privilege is a matter of luck, but I think most people, when they say being hired is a matter of luck, they mean random serendipity, not systemic injustice.

                1. Well...*

                  Huh, I always see privilege as a matter of luck for the individual benefitting. Being born into something isn’t a choice, though I see what you mean about there being intentional choices from those creating and maintaining those systems.

                2. MassMatt*

                  If you want to carve out different things that contribute to success that are separate from the individual’s hard work, skill, or ability, fine. Let’s just say that the more privileged/rich/connected you and your family are, the “luckier” you are.

          2. skadhu*

            Luck in the context of showing portfolios doesn’t mean networking and having contacts, it means being in the right place at the right time, i.e. when someone is hiring. Networking is setting up connections and resources outside a specific job search, so that if a job comes along you’ll get a tip.

            It is normal for grads to want to show their portfolios and get feedback; it is normal for people in the field to oblige (though much less normal than it used to be, many will no longer look at portfolios at all).

            What is *not* an industry norm is pursuing a contact after showing your portfolio. In very, very limited circumstances a contact may make a note of someone who has special skills that may be useful when a new project comes up, but pursuing the contact won’t cause the project to happen. If the job isn’t there, the job isn’t there, and pursuing it is a pointless procedure that will just irritate the contact who is being chased.

            1. Esmeralda*

              By definition, these are not people in the industry yet — they are recent grads, not yet employed in the industry, and thus do not know what those norms are.

              1. skadhu*

                That’s true—but if their institution is telling them to get out and show portfolios, it should also tell them not to follow up incessantly when they aren’t hired, because it will actively work against their interests. The fault is with the institution for inadequate instruction on industry norms.

                1. Esmeralda*

                  It’s possible that the institution isn’t telling the students this, and so they should do so.

                  But OP should understand that even if the school says, don’t do X, some students are still going to do it.

              2. Yorick*

                I feel bad for them because networking is so hard, but I also think it should be common knowledge not to nag people. If someone has a brief, polite communication with you and doesn’t invite more, you don’t send them more and more and more messages.

                Sure, OP realizes that these people are just looking for help, and she tries to offer a little. But OP isn’t responsible for every art school graduate getting an art job.

          3. Sparkles McFadden*

            Here’s what luck is:

            Many years ago, I started my post-college job search and I had an interview with Company A. I arrived very early, so I sat on a bench about a block away, outside of Company B. An acquaintance of a family member walked by on her way to the Company B building. When she saw me on the bench, she stopped to say hello. When I mentioned I was going to a job interview, she said “I think we have a new opening here at Company B. Come see me after you’re through and I’ll take you to personnel.” I had an interview that same day and started at Company B the following week.

            The oddest part of this is that I was not looking to get into Company B’s industry, but it turned out to be a perfect fit. That industry was my career for my entire adult life.

            Yes, something else would have turned up and I would have gotten some job somewhere else, but that really was just a lucky break.

            1. Liz*

              Exactly this. I define the luck element as the aspects of the job search that are outside of my control. The college can teach networking, the applicant can have strong materials, but the right job coming up at the right time, and meeting with the right people? Those are beyond our control. It seems LW is struggling with applicants who are trying to do EVERYTHING right and haven’t quite realised that you can’t force the luck element through gumption.

            2. Esmeralda*

              The luck piece is you were sitting in front of the building when that person walked by.

              But is wasn’t purely luck. It was *also* access. You knew someone who worked for company B (a family friend), who knew there was a likely opening, and who was willing to take you over to personnel.

              1. Anoni*

                That. Even Bill Gates knows he didn’t get where he was by luck and pure hard work. He had access, connections, and parental investment (both time and money). All you need is some combination of those things and then your work can take you over the finish line, but to get to start the race, especially in a competitive industry, takes some combo of factors.

              2. Yorick*

                I think access is something that most people would file under “luck.” Sparkles was lucky to know a person who worked at Company B, not just to be sitting on a bench at the precise moment.

            3. Ana Gram*

              Yep, my luck was getting a letter from an agency I wanted to work for saying they were only hiring a certain number of non-certified people and I wasn’t chosen. I got a call a few weeks later because I was next on the list and someone had withdrawn after accepting the job. I’ve been here 17 years and love it.

              I was a good candidate but luck sure as heck helped me out.

          4. Prague*

            This also requires effort on the OP’s part – to contact the school about what they need to do (teach improved networking/tell people to back off/etc) and the consequences of what could happen if they don’t (cut off entirely vs limited opportunities).

    2. Catwoman*

      I agree. By doing portfolio reviews and engaging with the students, the LW is, to a certain extent, inviting contact and indicating to students that the LW is willing to give feedback and looking for new talent. From the LW’s mentioning that they follow some promising students’ careers after they graduate and then offer jobs, that’s not a totally off-base assumption for the students to be making. I think the LW needs to realise that access to these graduates’ portfolios and pipeline of talent is the benefit the LW is getting from this arrangement. The cost of this is dealing with the graduates who are sending personal emails and Instagram DMs. I think it is appropriate for the LW to speak with the college and ask them to ask their students not to do this, but LW also needs to learn to see this as a cost of doing business to a certain extent and acknowledge how they are benefitting from it.

      1. Yorick*

        No, having people pester you after you do them a favor is not the cost of doing business.

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      It could also be that they’re just leaning too heavily on the example of LW as the poster child for success, which is driving students to LW of their own accord. It’s not easy to turn art college into a paid creative job. Success stories are rare IME, and there’s probably not a huge pool of inspirational graduate stories the college can use to promote their course outcomes.

      I would be tempted to include a note in my response to the students that reaching out via personal channels isn’t generally considered appropriate in a professional context. Partly because it is kinda invasive, but also as a kindness to them while they’re still figuring that stuff out. Might also be worth checking in with the college to make sure they’re not distributing LW’s personal email without their permission.

    4. Lacey*

      Yes, I would contact the school with advice for the students about not hassling people they’re hoping will help them, etc.

    5. Tuckerman*

      Agreed. Talking to someone in their career services department could help everyone here. I’m not career services, but adjacent. I connect with local employers so our students have the most up to date information. This also helps cut down on the number of inquiries employers receive from our students. I’d absolutely want to know if our students were doing something that negatively impacted an employer. It’s also helpful to have this information directly from the employer, to push back on the bad advice some career services professionals provide students.

    6. Mockingjay*

      It’s typical of colleges to tell students to reach out to alumni – networking! What they fail to mention is to ensure that the alumnus is in a place to actually help or is actively hiring before they toss your name out.

      A couple of years after I graduated, I landed a job at the biggest employer in the area. Within six months, I began getting calls from almost and recent grads looking for jobs. (My college was local.) Only two years out of school myself, I had no standing or clout to get anyone a job. The calls became so frequent that I had to ask my school to stop referring people to me.

      I felt terrible – I graduated during a recession and it took me six months to find full-time employment, so I completely understood the students’ plight. I was just too new to my career to be of use to anyone yet.

  6. Speaks to Dragonflies*

    O.P. 5…”I’ve always considered the policy harsh but fair.”
    Fair until it happens (or almost happens ) to you. I can understand the reasoning behind it, but it seems that a better way would be to look at past performance of individuals along with the legitimacy of why they called out. If there’s a pattern of being flaky on days before or after holidays, then deal with the individual. A blanket policy that is punitive to people that legitimately call out is lazy managment.

    1. Caroline Bowman*

      Yes, this. It would be one thing to make a properly-worded policy amendment to the effect of ”if you are calling out sick the day before or after scheduled leave or X and Y national holiday periods, you may be asked for a doctor’s letter or appropriate documentation to support the absence being approved and paid”.

      So if someone was, say, in a fender bender and genuinely couldn’t get to work till way after it made sense for them to be there, there could be a police report / insurance claim, or a doctor’s letter in the case of illness, or a plumber’s invoice for when the geyser explodes or… or… and each case could be taken on its merits in a fair, reasonable way. It would discourage spontaneous ”screw it, I feel like an extra day off” type absences, but allow for those who are facing genuine issues to explain and if necessary, provide reasonable evidence.

      1. All the words*

        Speaking only for myself, but if I wake up with a migraine or am having a bout of GI distress, a doctor’s visit, which can be costly in the U.S. (even with insurance), isn’t appropriate.

        If this type of absence is causing serious problems regularly it sounds like the real issue is understaffing.

        1. WorkingGirl*

          I’ve occassionally had days where my menstrual cramps warranted a day off. I’m not going to go to the doctor for that.

        2. I'm just here for the cats*

          I totally agree. If you had GI issues and can’t leave your bathroom you probably aren’t going to get to the emergency room.

    2. MistOrMister*

      I worked at a place tahat had one of these policies. A coworker apparently didn’t know or forgot about it and called out after a holiday. Strictly because she wanted more time off. Boy was she,livid when she found out she wasn’t getting her extra holiday pay!!! In that instance I did not feel sorry for her at all. She had a tendency to do things like that. That being said, I don’t like policies like that in general. Life happens and people shouldn’t be docked pay just because something went wrong for them around a holiday.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, I had a job that had this policy specifically because so many people were in the habit of calling in because they wanted more time off. But it was a veterinarian’s office (small business *and* functionally healthcare) and we honest to gods could not function with that many people out.

        So, getting legitimate time off was a pain in the ass but it wasn’t entirely management’s fault–a lot of employees left us hanging because they didn’t feel like coming in.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Yep. I think LW sees it as fair because it’s consistently enforced – but true fairness is about a lot more than that.

      1. Anima*

        There is also the possibility of something goig wrong with transport. If your car breaks down on the way home, you might not arrive in the town you work in at all, because you don’t have a car anymore!
        Or, if you take public transportation, you can get stuck. On my last ever trip by plane (I strictly don’t fly anymore), my plane was late 7 hours (!). 7 hours is almost a full work day. My dad recently had bad luck with trains and got an overnight stay in a hotel (paid by the train company) in a town on his way. He would have never ever arrived for his shift the next day. I could go on with examples from my experience alone. Conclusion: this policy is bad and needs to be changed.

      1. HannahMiss*

        Isn’t the holiday pay the extra incentive? I work a job with a holiday pay policy worded exactly like this. If I call out on Christmas, whether it’s because I want to spend time with family or I have the flu, I can use PTO to cover the day’s pay. My paycheck for the week won’t be lower unless I take it unpaid. I just won’t get the extra 8 hour’s holiday pay. And it’s a decently effective at getting people to show up on holidays – nearly everyone eligible for holiday pay works the holidays, while the part-time ineligible for holiday pay are more likely to call in personal. It does suck when a genuine emergency happens – I had to call in the weekend before Christmas because my grandfather passed away, so I forfeited my holiday pay. I knew when I started working here though that I would be scheduled holidays, so it’s always been an upfront part of the job.

        1. CatsOnAKeyboard*

          No, because it’s punitive.

          An incentive is getting more than you normally would (for example, pay for 40 hours + overtime) while in this case, even when they take the day they are actually sick as PTO, they’re still only able to get 32 hours of pay at most and possibly only 24 if they had to take it unpaid.

          In your situation, though, it sounds like you actually work the holiday itself normally, so you’d have to take request the holiday itself off – which is a different case and hopefully involved extra money on the day itself. But in that case, I’d expect you to have to use PTO to cover both the day and the day after and wouldn’t have a shortened paycheck.

        2. Koala dreams*

          Well, you have a point. In effect it’s not holiday pay, it’s a 5th of July pay (or whatever day employees need to work to get the extra pay). There were several comments above about offering double pay for hard to cover days, so you are not alone in seeing it like that. It still has the same problems, whatever you call it, though.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      Yabbut… I work for a solo practitioner, and have been with him over a decade. If I call him on Friday morning before a long weekend and tell him I have a family emergency and can’t come in, it is completely not a problem. We have a long, well established history and he knows I’m not just blowing off work for an even longer weekend. But how does this scale up to a large organization? It would come down to at the discretion of the employee’s supervisor. This in turn would result in a certainty of inconsistent application, and the potential for all sorts of favoritism or discrimination. I’m not saying a large organization shouldn’t necessarily accept this, but I can understand why they wouldn’t want to.

    5. Miss V*

      My company has this policy but with the addendum that it can be waived at your manager’s discretion.

      I had to do it once because I woke up with a migraine on July 5th (dehydration is one of my major migraine triggers, so hot surprising) and my manager had no problem with. Meanwhile, my coworker who always seems to consistently not be feeling well the day after a long weekend slowly stopped having those days approved. And that seems reasonable.

  7. Bee*

    OP4 – my boss has a repeated sentence in her email signature, it appears that when she copied it into the template she’s accidentally doubled up on a bit of it. I’ve pointed it out to her in a friendly, just thought that you might like to know kind of way, but she hasn’t updated it so I guess she’s not that concerned about it :) I wouldn’t worry about it too much, I don’t think people pay that much attention to them anyway!

    Alison, your comment reminded me of the menu of a local dumpling restaurant my family visits. On the second page of the menu is the Vagetables section. I giggle like a child every time we go there. If they corrected it I’d probably be a little disappointed to see it fixed up as it’s been spelled wrong for years now.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I know of a farm that has a stand selling corn. On their sign, they had misspelled the word so it read “cron.” Eventually they fixed it to the correct spelling. Their customers told them they enjoyed the misspelled version better, so the farmers changed it back to the original sign with the typo.

      1. Not Australian*

        In the (very) early days of Star Trek fandom there was a fanzine called ‘Omicorn’. The mistake had been pointed out to the editor but she liked it that way, and so did other people, so it stayed for the life of the zine. Happy memories!

      2. TexasTeacher*

        Someone’s backyard fence in my neighborhood used to have graffiti that proclaimed, “Your in hell” that some thoughtful person had corrected with an apostrophe and an “e”. It stayed like that for years until the fence was replaced. I was quite sad when that happened!

      1. Your local password resetter*

        “A wizard arrives precisely when he means to.”
        Harry Solo, during the Death Star trench run

    2. Constance Lloyd*

      I used to interact with a high school athletics coach who had a quote from… Joe Paterno in their email signature. In 2017. I would have perhaps found a different source for my generically inspirational email signature.

    3. Twisted Knickers*

      A local jewelry store has a large sign in the
      front yard proudly proclaiming that they were “Estabished” in 1988. We laugh every time we drive by.

  8. nelly*

    This is just a curiosity regarding LW 5:
    In my country the philosophy seems to be very different. We are also heavily unionized. There used to be a time, when people wouldn’t come back from time off (or strike) and people were also leaving and went to work in neighbouring countries. So, the unions came up with the idea that they would pay MORE if the people RETURNED to work. And still today, we have a special “vacationymoney” in most fields, that we get during or after vacation on top of the regular pay. “Stick or carrots” kind of difference…

    1. WS*

      Australia has “leave loading” (you get paid 17.5% extra on holiday) which is to encourage people to take their holidays rather than get a payout when they leave, at which time you get paid for unused leave but no leave loading.

      1. Danni*

        I’ve heard it can cause situations under some union agreements – when a person works for the same employer for decades “from the mailroom to the most senior officer” and never took vacation as a mailroom worker – employee retires, employer has to pay out a year or more of vacation at the employee’s last salary.
        (I think I read about this in the context of a public employee in the US who was encouraged to retire for misconduct and the de facto golden parachute was… controversial.)

        In the Netherlands, by law, you receive 8% of your gross yearly income as vacation pay every May – essentially an extra month’s salary. This applies to employees as well as people receiving disability payments or public assistance payments. (Though the PM does not think people with assistance payments should receive this. Which is a bit… eh?… as the vacation pay is as much part of the “this is what people can theoretically surive on in a year” calculation as the normal monthly payments, and as such, people on assistance payments or the equally low disability payment tend to spend most of it on things they need, not on vacations.)

  9. staceyizme*

    When you PAY a mentor, they’re the consultant. You’re the client. If they give you anything less than a consummate professional experience, they’re a bad consultant. In this case, the consultant burned the bridge and you shouldn’t feel delicate or reticent in the slightest about suspending services from her. You’re not obligated to critique her, either, unless you choose to. A simple “no, thank you” to any further sessions should suffice. (But if you do decide to specify what’s gone awry, or even negatively review the experience, it’s nothing that should cause concern for you unless you’re expecting her to be a running source of client referrals.)

    1. Lisa*

      Yes it sounds like OP#1 is really misreading the power dynamic here. Just because this person is a hired mentor doesn’t mean they are not also a service provider. I’m curious why they are even concerned about burning a bridge, since amicably ending a vendor contract is a really normal thing. I’m wondering if OP “trying to start a small business” could indicate they are new to these dynamics. In which case they could really benefit from a better business mentor!

      1. OP1*

        You pretty much hit the nail on the head; I’m extremely new to this whole business thing, and I’m fairly young with only a few years of experience, much of which occurred in settings with very unusual power dynamics. So I appreciate y’all’s insight just as much as Allison’s cause it’s helpful to hear what’s “normal” and stuff.

        1. MassMatt*

          Well, you might be wise to want to be sure not to antagonize this person unnecessarily if they’re prominent in your industry. But in general, when you are the one paying, you are the customer, and should expect to be treated as such. Repeated lateness, no shows, and ghosting/disappearing for several weeks at a time are terrible behavior and merit firing.

          1. OP1*

            Thanks! I’m glad to hear I’m justified in my decision to end dealing with her and absolve myself of feeling like I should follow up.

            And yeah so she’s fairly prominent/well known in my niche area of the industry. In the broader industry, her name won’t carry much weight, but as I enjoy my niche I’d rather just not deal with risking a antagonizing her if it’ll possibly come back to bite me later.

            1. A Person*

              You’re probably not the only person who’s getting this treatment (late for appointments etc). She’s probably equally careless with other people’s time in many areas of her life.

    2. Harper the Other One*

      Exactly what I came to say! I think the “mentor” part is muddying the waters for OP because normally a mentor is not paid so they are doing you a significant favour by helping to coach you. But this is a paid relationship and you don’t owe this person anything other than exactly what your contract says.

    3. BRR*

      Yeah I was confused about the concept of a paid mentorship. But overall I think lw1 is overthinking it. I mean, what’s the “mentor” going to do when the lw ends it, reply?

      1. OP1*

        I think it’s due to the nature of the work we do. People tend to use less rigid terms — clearly to a detriment at times.

    4. WellRed*

      Yes, this whole situation was very different than I thought. You paid for consultation and spent far too much time waiting on them or hunting them down. End the business arrangement. This is not a mentor ship.

    5. OP1*

      Thank you for reframing the mentor vs consultant concept; this is actually super helpful in terms of how I’m conceptualizing in my head.

      1. TransmascJourno*

        OP1–I was truly curious about the concept of a “paid mentorship,” only because I had never heard of it before. (That could totally be due to my own career experience in my field.) Was that how it was framed from the getgo? As in, was this through a program where there was a designation of the other person as a mentor specifically? As others noted above, this was more reminiscent as a client/consultant dynamic per your description, so I was curious if the word “mentor” was ever used or applied explicitly and/or directly at any point. (If my comment falls under the realm of nitpicking, feel free to delete, Allison—I just wanted to ask in case it could help with the OP reframing the dynamic in a helpful way.)

        1. OP1*

          It was always framed as mentorship. Tbh nothing seemed weird to me about that — it was a consultancy typed arrangement in the work I think (eg being told what to do and when and why to get my business going, but I guess a mentor might do that too). I’m not overly familiar with where the line is tbh)

          1. TransmascJourno*

            Okay, that clears some stuff up! I can totally understand why this would be confusing to navigate. Alison’s advice is spot on either way.

            Another question—in your field, is framing consultancy relations like this as paid mentorships generally normalized? And do other more junior people in your field that you know do something similar?

          2. CmdrShepard*

            In my limited experience (so take it for what it is worth) there are different types of mentors, personal mentors (usually someone you meet outside of work, or met at work but no longer work with them) and company mentors you work for Teapots inc and they assign a senior person in the company to be your mentor help you get ahead within the company, but if you leave the company they likely would stop being your mentor.

            An unpaid mentor tends to give you more general career advice meets with you a handful of times through out the year, they might give you direct/general advice of what to do and generally when and why. But they likely would not give specific advice, IE you need to roll x project out by 8/24, or contact this client in the next week.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      DING DING DING. This is exactly it. Frankly, I think that Alison’s approach is a polite and considerate one–maybe more considerate and polite than I would use in this circumstance. I would probably use her script with a mentor who was NOT paid, because it seems to take the attitude that this isn’t really a problem or anyone’s fault, it’s just this kind of vague mutual difficulty, so let’s not stress ourselves out trying to make it work. In this circumstance, where I had actually paid for a service and that service was not being provided adequately, I would probably be a lot firmer, and talk to them in no uncertain terms about their lack of communication and timeliness. In fact, if the late arrival at meetings has meant that you’re getting less time in meetings with them than your contract stipulates (e.g., the contract says “a one-hour meeting once a week” and it’s only been 45 minutes once a week), I would point that out, because it means that you’re not getting what you paid for.

      1. OP1*

        So that was actually part of my early frustration — I was supposed to be getting a 1 hour meeting and, to top it off, she’d regularly step away for a few minutes to take phone calls, talk to someone who interrupted in her space etc and it was honestly ridiculous. Like you just can’t do that when you have clients but I think because of how I’d framed it in my head (re: mentor ship vs consultancy) it wasn’t really until I got my latest job and realized how fucked up that was that I finally wanted out. Like, I see clients too and if I was regularly 15 minutes late, not responding to emails, and was constantly being interrupted etc. I’d probably be fired; my clients would stop seeing me and my boss would be like “ok bye!” It’s sort of different if it’s an emergency — for example, I work from home, as does my husband, and if my child was injured and my husband needed me like NOW, I think most people are reasonable enough to understand those exceptional circumstances, but that shouldn’t be your routine way of running your business. Basically this has all been a crash course in my going from somewhat annoyed to being straight up pissed the more I realize it’s not normal and not ok.

        1. AskJeeves*

          Totally! You’re paying her, so you *are* her client and you’re entitled to the time you’ve paid for. Her behavior is rude and unprofessional, but it’s also just straight-up unethical. She is taking your money and not providing the agreed-upon service. It might still make sense to use Alison’s very diplomatic wording, but you are completely correct that the behavior is not ok, and you shouldn’t work with this woman again or refer business her way.

          1. Nanani*

            Are you sure this paid mentorship isn’t a scam played on newbies in your field? Maybe put some feelers out and see what experiences other people in your field have.
            Deep-orange flag.

            1. OP1*

              Given what else I know about her work, no, if’s legit. I think it’s more likely she’s going through something and neglecting what she sees as the more optional parts of her work.

    7. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      In addition to ending your relationship with this consultant (because that’s what they are!) I would suggest speaking with the friend that recommended them to let them know what your experience with this consultant was. (In a professional way of course!) Just be mindful in how you frame the conversation with your friend. You don’t want it to sound like you’re blaming them for connecting you with this person, but rather more informing them that you didn’t have an entirely positive experience with the consultant and you thought your friend would like to know. There’s a world of difference between “Hey! That mentor you recommended was terrible” and “I wanted to let you know how things with mentor worked out. They were helpful with A & B, but due to X,Y,Z I ultimately decided to end the relationship before the program was fully finished.”
      How your friend responds to this information will tell you a lot about whether you should trust them in the future.
      If your friend isn’t aware of how this consultant works then they deserve to have that information so they can decide if they want to continue recommending them. “OMG, I had no idea, she was so great when I worked with her/she came so highly recommended”.
      If your friend is aware that this consultant has done this before, then I’d reconsider any advice from them. “Yeah, I’d heard that consultant has scheduling/absence problems in the past” or “Yeah they did that to me on this project too.”

    8. Nanani*

      This. Paying for a mentor seems very off to me. A mentor should be someone more senior than you in the field with whom you have a real relationship, not a contractual one.
      Maybe this is just a terminology difference or normal in LWs field, but it reads really weird to me.

      In any case, you are paying for a service that isn’t being delivered. You can fire the provider and decline to pursue further service.

      1. OP1*

        I think it’s normal in the field — it’s a field that sways towards a lot of woo woo, pseudoscience, and often comes up with a lot random nonsense in the name of social justice and equality, not that I’m anti-social justice, but some people do things like trying to control what staff/employees/workers call clients. Think along the lines of trying to justify that it’s some how demeaning to a teacher to call a student a “student” because it for some reason implies that a person who’s there to learn (definition of student) is some how powerless (seriously, this is the kind of nonsense they come up with), while I find it over the top at times, I think because of that, it didn’t really strike me as odd that a consultant would prefer to call themselves a mentor and I just chalked it up to the latest idiosyncrasy of my field.

  10. HRE*

    My husband’s work tried to deny him holiday pay when I went into labor early in the morning on the day before Thanksgiving- he pushed back and got paid. I thought that was ridiculous!

  11. SheriffFatman*

    OP4, I feel your pain. The one that pushes my buttons is “Be the change you want to see in the world”, attributed to Gandhi, who never said it. He did say something to similar effect, but it was lot longer, taking up most or all of a whole paragraph of an article on first-aid treatments for snake bites.

    He doesn’t seem to have been one for snappy one-liners in general: he came from an older, more wordy (but still effective) rhetorical tradition.

    1. Laura*

      The one that gets me is the quotation from Marianne Williamson that people are constantly attributing to Nelson Mandela (“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate…”). I totally agree with Alison that it wouldn’t be worth calling it out in someone’s email signature, but I did once point it out to a Facebook connection **who I knew from our overlapping mutual tenure living and working in South Africa.** (And to be fair, no, our work there did not entail reading and memorizing everything Mandela ever said or wrote…but come on!)

      1. Random quote for a Monday*

        My personal pet peeve misattribution is “If you can dream it, you can do it”, commonly attributed to Walt Disney.

        (In actuality, the quote is “If we can dream it, we can do it.” It was written in 1981/82 (Walt Disney passed away in 1966) as part of the script for the Horizons attraction at the then EPCOT Center, and was penned by one of the Imagineers on that project, Tom Fitzgerald.)

      2. ErinWV*

        I had not heard of this, but I am just reading about it now. Further along, the quotation says “We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?'” I really cannot imagine Mandela encouraging his people to embrace being “fabulous.”

        Also, nobody should quote Marianne Williamson, she is awful.

        1. Laura*

          RIGHT! I did see this misattribution a lot more frequently before Williamson’s recent presidential bid, so perhaps her increased national profile helped people get this straight in their minds. (Before she ran for president, I only knew Marianne Williamson as “That lady who actually said/wrote that quotation that people think Nelson Mandela said for some reason,” and I needed Google to double check that I was correct about what her name was.)

    2. Beany*

      When I look up quotations, I usually find that (a) they’re attributed to the wrong person, or (b) they were *kinda* said by the person indicated, but made snappier by repeated retellings. So the “Gandhi quote” might really have started with a couple of paragraphs from Gandhi himself, but been refined by countless anonymous retellers along the way.

      1. JustaTech*

        One of my cousins had a FB post pulled because someone reported the post she was sharing as “misinformation” because it incorrectly attributed a quote. I thought that was a really strange thing for someone to bother reporting (I think it was a newspaper, as part of their reporting), but it *was* incorrect.

      2. OyHiOh*

        This is definitely the case with one of my favorites, “beware of artists for they associate . . .” usually attributed to Sen. McCarthy. The real quote is a much more wordy paragraph written by King Leopold of Belgium to his niece Queen Victoria who had recently ascended the throne. In this case, I prefer his version over the snappier modern sound bite because it more clearly articulates why he worried about artists (paraphrasing here, that artists, by mingling freely throughout society, were town criers of a sort, telling people who had less what they could have, if only they did something about it and fostering connections between people who wanted to do something with people who knew how to get it done/could provide money to get it done).

    3. phred*

      ‘The problem with internet quotes is that you cannot always depend on their accuracy.’
      –Abraham Lincoln

  12. Melissa*

    I started a new job today and the manager has the name of the organization spelled wrong in her email signature! I had no idea if I should tell her or not. I’ve told people about errors in their email signature or out of office auto responses before and they’ve always gotten really offended. And not because I was rude about it, either. I think it embarrasses people so they lash out at the messenger. Anyway, these days I think that adults are perfectly capable of spell or fact checking themselves and I stay out of it.

    1. NinaBee*

      some people are oddly defensive about grammar mistakes. Sometimes people have genuine issues like dyslexia that makes it difficult to write, but often the same mistakes (your/you’re, should’ve/should of, their/they’re) get perpetuated. Drives me a little nuts (especially seeing editorial mistakes in blogs and news articles) but I think it’s a losing battle at this point :(

    2. EPLawyer*

      Unless you are specfically asked to proofread something — stay out of it. Saves you time and effort.

      1. EmKay*

        There’s proofreading, and then there’s glaring mistakes that jump out at you. If I had one of those **in my email signature, no less**, I would want to know ASAP.

        1. GothicBee*

          Sure, but for every 1 person who would be happy to be told, there’s quite a few other people who will think you’re an obnoxious know-it-all. It boils down to: there’s at least some risk involved in pointing out typos/grammar mistakes, especially to your boss, but there’s zero risk in not pointing it out (unless you’ve been hired to proofread the email signature).

    3. have we met?*

      My 2 cents:

      Only required if your role is executive assistant or proofreader, and, even then, probably not on Day 1.

      Once you’ve sussed out your place in the department, you’ll have a better idea of how they react to “criticism” and the best way to bring it up. Or if you even should.

    4. Sparkles McFadden*

      Don’t say anything unless the manager has said “Please proofread my email signature and let me know if you see anything wrong.”

    5. Claritza*

      A health professional was recommended to me whose last name was misspelled on her business card. Not a great first impression.

    6. Esmeralda*

      No. For sure someone who’s been working there longer than one day has already noticed. And maybe even said something.

      If I were your manager and you said something to me about it, I’d say thank you and fix it. And then it would be awhile before I stopped thinking of you as that noob who had nothing better to do than to nitpick email signatures.

        1. Esmeralda*

          Not a grudge. But for sure I’d think, why is this new person focusing on such a small thing when they should have been paying attention to onboarding? And why do they think it’s ok to correct a manager on the very first day? Unless they’re hired as an editor, social media person, that sort of thing.

          1. Super Duper*

            This. I wouldn’t be angry or hold a grudge, but it would strike me as odd and make me watch more closely to assess their professional judgment. It’s a harmless typo, it presumably predates the commenter, and they have much bigger things to focus on as a new employee. Typos jump out to me and I would be itching to correct this, but if you point out your manager’s typo on your first day, it’s more likely to look presumptuous and nitpicky than proactive and helpful.

    7. JustaTech*

      I’ll admit to getting grouchy when people point out an error in my Out of Office reply (there was a weird technical error), but not that they were pointing it out, but that they responded *twice* that I had an error, when I clearly started in both my OOO replies (the old one and the correct one) that I wasn’t checking email.

      But I didn’t say anything to them, I just fixed it for the next time.

  13. Tuppence*

    OP1, if you’re having to chase her down in order to get appointments scheduled in, and you’re concerned about making things awkward by having the conversation, couldn’t you just… not chase up with her? If she’s not actively trying to arrange appointments herself, and you stop trying, it seems as though the business relationship will wrap up on its own without having to be ‘formally’ ended.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I thought this too. She ghosted you. Let her ghost you. And if she does contact you, you can use Alison’s script.

      It sounds like she already broke the relationship off by ghosting you and knows who’s fault it is. You don’t need to reach out to end it formally. It sounds like you want to let her know how disappointed you are about her professionalism and service, but if you let it go she knows it’s her own fault.

      1. MK*

        Since the OP claims she doesn’t want to have a negative relationship with this person, that sounds like the best path. Even if the mentor (surely consultant is a better description) contacts her at some point, it will be easier to the say it makes no sense to continue than to contact her specifically to say it.

    2. Amy*

      Agreed. I don’t chase down people that I want to work for me. 1 contact, maybe 2 but after that, you’re clearly not interested. Unless I’ve already paid them for work they have not delivered, it’s over.

  14. NinaBee*

    OP2, wonder if it’s worth doing some type of video channel or even a webinar/lecture at your company once a year when grads are finished so that they get a taste of how your company operates (as an example of the field)? So rather than just portfolio reviews, you present how other things work in the industry, what they’d have to consider when looking for work, how a company like yours operates, what NOT to do, etc. You can be clear that you are not looking to hire, but that it’s an informative session for them to hear how the real world industry operates. Like extending the FAQ suggestion Alison gave, but having somewhere to point them to that gives real value rather than the usual generic advice could satisfy them.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Honestly, though, those students most want a job, not an informative session. Many would come to show engagement and interest, but it leaves a false impression that they have a “in” now because they know someone. I also question your conclusion that a video channel or even a webinar/lecture has more value than an FAQ.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        A video or webinar would also take a huge amount of time to produce well, and since OP is in the arts, they’d need to do it well or take a hit to their reputation. FAQs are much quicker and easier to produce, OP can quickly write them up and edit them too if she realises there are things she could have added or clarified.

  15. Tell 'em!*

    #4 I’d let her know. I’d want to know before I looked foolish in front of colleagues or custoemrs!

        1. ecnaseener*

          Good thing we aren’t your colleagues or customers. *points finger* Ha! See the fool with their fool typo!

  16. it's the law anon*

    The situation in #5: In my province (Nova Scotia) according to the labour laws, in order to get paid for the six stat holidays (which are the only ones it applies to), you must:

    1. be entitled to receive pay for at least 15 of the 30 calendar days before the holiday, and
    2. have worked on their last scheduled shift or day before the holiday and on the first scheduled shift or day after the holiday

    They note that if you’re not scheduled to work the day immediately after the holiday, you’re still paid since it states your next scheduled shift, NOT just the day after. I’m assuming that if employers wanted to still pay holiday to employees who don’t meet this criteria, they could.

  17. SaraC*

    This is something I would ask about as manager, even if your employee hasn’t asked you to intervene. Have you inquired with your payroll/HR about this, and what provisions there are for emergencies? You might be able to make something happen retroactively, or at least have a better understanding of the policy.

  18. Seeking Second Childhood*

    My company is even stricter on hours–work a full 8 hours day before & day after a holiday or the holiday is unpaid.
    Our manager fought hard for an exception for the team when we had deadlines early in a week (requiring 9-hour days), and a strict no-overtime rule.
    Her boss went to his boss: “Should we miss the product release deadline next time?”
    The response involved four-letter words. We got paid.

  19. Tim C.*

    There is a way around LW#5 dilemma. Most of the policies have that unexcused absences result in loss of holiday pay. It would be up to the manager to mark the absence as excused or not. I cannot say this is the case here as I do not know the actual policy. However a manager will need to be very careful as this could be interpreted as favoritism or discrimination. In my experience, managers blindly apply the policy to avoid such accusations.

  20. whistle*

    I pretty much assume every quote in someone’s email signature was not said by the person it is attributed to. This type of mistake is so rampant there’s no way to combat it.

  21. whistle*

    I pretty much assume every quote in an email signature line was not said by the person it is attributed to. This is such a common mistake, there’s really not way to combat it.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      My favorite faux quote is claiming Abraham Lincoln to have said “I didn’t actually say of all the things that are attributed to me on the Internet.”

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        This is a variant of the apparently genuine Yogi Berra quote “I really didn’t say everything I said.”

  22. HR & Cats*

    This isn’t going to be a popular comment but in regards to LW5, I can absolutely understand why companies make blanket policies like this. I’ve worked at several places where people have used calling in sick to extend vacations, it’s actually not that uncommon in my experience. I personally advocated for more nuance to this policy at one company and regretted it. Every single person had a legitimate sounding excuse so the policy essentially became useless. Then we started requiring some kind of documentation and we ended up getting a huge influx of doctor’s notes. Doctor’s notes are surprisingly easy to get though, pop into urgent care and say you’re not feeling well and they’ll write you a one day excuse almost without question. On top of that, we ended up getting a significant influx of forged doctor’s notes, which we were able to verify were false. This was in a call center environment where coverage was essential. I’d love to say that we should trust people to be truthful and use discretion as to what a real emergency constitutes and in many offices that would work, but in a high turnover entry level environment where minimum coverage is needed, it’s not practical.

    1. HR & Cats*

      And just to be clear, they did have a bank of PTO also so there were other time off options.

    2. InsufficientlySubordinate*

      That sounds like a hiring unreliable people problem more than anything.

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        Yup. I mean, I don’t know what else would urgent care do: call anyone without an open wound a liar? Plenty of symptoms can’t be verified externally (like migraines, insomnia or pain), which doesn’t mean they can’t be debiliatiting. Sort out your own issues with unreliable employees, don’t expect healthcare workers to do that for you.

    3. Paris Geller*

      Ehh, my last organization had a similar policy (not quite the same, since I was exempt, but it was basically if you call out sick the day before or after a holiday without a doctor’s note it will be a “strike” against you), and I ended up sick one Christmas eve, which was a working day for us. Believe me that I did not consider dragging myself to urgent care with my $75 copay worth it to get a day “off”. Another year, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which was a work day with me, I had to miss because a pipe burst and my apartment was flooded. I took a video and texted it to me boss and grand boss to prove I was dealing with an emergency. I only worked there three years and I had two legitimate emergencies/illnesses during that time.

    4. Anonymous Esq*

      Yeah idk I’m super torn because this seems to have so many of the downsides other commenters already listed and yet, an understaffed hospital sent my dad home on Christmas Eve while he was experiencing kidney failure and was literally on death’s doorstep because they “couldn’t give him the attention he needs.” So obviously the best course of action was sending a man home to die instead of diagnosing and treating him?
      We got incredibly lucky that he’s tougher than most but he was back in the hospital within a week, and all that was accomplished by the hospital sending him home was taking years off of my life in stress and worry.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        They sent him home? If there is a situation which a particular hospital can’t deal with, for whatever reason, they should send him to another hospital that can.

        1. InsufficientlySubordinate*

          If they were in an area in the middle of a Covid outbreak, it’s possible no other hospital had room or would take him. Also, it depends on the ER, but some are small and don’t have the equipment or specialty to do anything to assist some conditions. Usually, they stabilize and send to other hospitals with appropriate equipment.

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Yep, I’ve worked someplace with this policy and it did make sense to me. Pretty sure a significant fraction of the staff-I’d guess a fifth-wouldn’t show up if there wasn’t any penalty. We weren’t coverage based but we did have weekly deadlines every single week.

      Yeah, it’d be great to have reliable people, but awesome employees don’t want to work in a refrigerator (or call center) unless it pays significantly above market rate.

    6. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      The problem is the “high turnover” bit, which is just exacerbated around holidays. Much better to incentivise staff by giving them extra money for shifts around holidays surely, than to be repressive? Treating staff well, and paying them more might help to ease the turnover too.

  23. Fabulous*

    Wait – For #4 who originally said the quote???? I’ve only ever known it as Albert Einstein!

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Her misattributed quote is not quite “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” — Albert Einstein. But it’s close.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Right, so they are giving that as an example of a misattributed quote and some of us are surprised to learn that one is misattributed.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      And …

      12. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — not Albert Einstein

      Different versions of this quote appear everywhere (doing the same thing twice, expecting the same result, etc.), and we owe none of them to Einstein.

      After Michael Becker, an editor at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (a local paper in Montana), let the wrong version slide into an editorial, he did some research on his personal blog.

      Becker traced the original back to Rita Mae Brown, the mystery novelist. In her 1983 book “Sudden Death,” she attributes the quote to a fictional “Jane Fulton,” writing, “Unfortunately, Susan didn’t remember what Jane Fulton once said. ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.'”

      source: https://www.businessinsider.com/misattributed-quotes-2013-10

      additional link in source: http://www.news.hypercrit.net/2012/11/13/einstein-on-insanity/

    3. Purple Princess*

      According to businessinsider on an article about misattributed quotes:

      “Different versions of this quote appear everywhere (doing the same thing twice, expecting the same result, etc.), and we owe none of them to Einstein.

      After Michael Becker, an editor at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (a local paper in Montana), let the wrong version slide into an editorial, he did some research on his personal blog.

      Becker traced the original back to Rita Mae Brown, the mystery novelist. In her 1983 book “Sudden Death,” she attributes the quote to a fictional “Jane Fulton,” writing, “Unfortunately, Susan didn’t remember what Jane Fulton once said. ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.'””

      Link to follow.

      1. Actual Vampire*

        Fun fact: Rita Mae Brown, the mystery novelist who lists her cat as a co-author, was also a founding member of Lavender Menace – the group that demanded representation for lesbians in the 1970s women’s rights movement.

        1. JustaTech*

          Lavender Menace – That is the best name for a group ever! I wonder if there’s a women’s metal band with that name?
          I’ve got to go look them up, thank you!

  24. April LD*

    Re: the signature quote.

    I once corrected a literacy center employee on her email signature which said something about loosing yourself in a good book. I mean, if we’re talking about literacy…

  25. doreen*

    Re # 5 – I’m not at all sure that the intent was to have people ignore real illnesses or emergencies. I’m not in healthcare and the jobs I’ve had over the last 30 years have had legal holidays off. Which means that no one is calling in sick on Christmas or Thanksgiving itself, because we are off. But the jobs have always required some form of coverage , at least to the extent of only a certain percentage of people being on approved leave each day. There have been many times where offices have been very short-staffed ( like one person out of ten who were supposed to work showed up ) on the day after Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve. Most of those people didn’t suddenly get ill or have an emergency. They knew that they wouldn’t get approval to take the day off because too many other people already had been approved to be off.

    You shouldn’t assume that everyone who calls in sick around a holiday is lying – but you also can’t assume that if people are falsely calling in sick or claiming to have an emergency it’s a problem with the employer’s policies that don’t allow people to take time off. Every environment is different. In the position where I had the most issues with co-workers calling in sick , the problem was actually supervisors who didn’t follow the policies , so that there was no cost whatsoever for the ten people calling in sick and leaving one person to work, even though it was absolutely predictable as the same people called in sick every Christmas Eve, New Years Eve , day after Thanksgiving , Friday if July 4 was a Thursday and so on. And by no cost , I mean they got paid for the holiday, they got paid for the sick/emergency day, they didn’t have to provide any documentation of their illness or emergency and there wasn’t even a mention of this attendance issue on their performance evaluation. Of course, that just guaranteed that the problem would continue.

  26. Littorally*

    #5 – I ran afoul of the same policy at my old job. I came back from the holidays ridiculously ill — the doctor joked with me that her diagnosis was “oh my god, you poor thing.” In no way, shape, or form was I fit to work and I was also not safe to drive. So I got a doctor’s note — but Payroll at my job didn’t care. Emergency or no emergency, I was off the day after the holiday so I didn’t get the holiday pay. It was very demoralizing — not only did I have the cost of the urgent care visit and several prescriptions, but I also lost pay.

    It’s one thing to penalize an employee casually calling out in this circumstance; it’s harsh, but for jobs that have minimum required coverage, especially if it’s a situation like healthcare, daycare, or something else where the coverage may run afoul of legal staffing requirements, I get it. But imo you’ve got to have an exception process for genuine, documented issues. Do you really want to be the people docking an employee’s pay for going to the ER on Jan 2nd? Having a parent die on the 5th of July?

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      Simmalar thing happened to me at old work place. (not healthcare related) Only I was sent home early the day before a holiday because I was having an asthma attack. I was doing ok. not turning blue or anything, but I was struggling. I was sent home an hour or so before my shift was done by one of the team leads. I went to ER, got a nebalizer treatment and was fine. Worked my normal shift the next day (holiday) and when that check came, I didnt get my holiday pay.

      They also tried to keep my holiday pay because i was “Late” coming to work the day after a holiday. I was 5 minutes late clocking in to the system because the computer had to be rebooted and I could only clock in on my computer. Luckily my team lead took care of that for me, but it really ticked me off . Surprise! That company no longer exists.

  27. UKgreen*

    Re #4 – I do some freelance work for a school. I recently received an email from one of the staff explaining that some places had become available at an ‘improving student litarecy’ training course…

    I felt it might have been a bit rude to ask if the staff litarecy course came first… :)

  28. Essess*

    An existing team shouldn’t change their name because of a new team coming in and making a similar name. If you don’t want overlapping names, the NEW team should rename themselves. The name change for a new team has less impact and confusion and cost on the operations of the company to change the name with all clients/documentation/etc… Essentially, it’s the same as a pregnant person demanding everyone else in a family change their existing children’s name because they want to name their newborn child the same name. No, existing names remain and new names take those into consideration.

  29. Anon for Obvious Reasons*

    #5–My current workplace has this policy, and it led to someone who HAD ACTIVE COVID (fever, cough, etc) coming into the office and exposing 18 people to it before she was sent home at noon on Dec 27. About 5 of those people got COVID from her, she still works here and we still have the policy.

    If anyone’s had any luck in getting policies like this removed from their US workplaces, I would LOVE to know more.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      That’s awful! It truly is not a useful policy because the people who are going to game the system will game whatever system there is and everyone else suffers. There is no logic to this policy so I, too, would love to know if anyone ever made management see the light.

      I once worked in a place that had this ridiculous holiday policy. Our company supplied finished product to another company. That company was closed on days around the holidays that we weren’t allow to take off (such as the Friday after Thanksgiving), so we literally had no work to do on those days. Still, upper management would send someone around several times a day to make sure we came in on time, didn’t take any “excessive” breaks, and that we were present until the end of business day. The dude literally went from department to department all day, carrying a clipboard so he could check off how many times he saw each of us during the course of the day.

    2. Firecat*

      Doesn’t surprise me at all. Oftentimes these places also have policies that track your call out days and penalize you for getting tested for Covid if it comes back negative.

      It never occurs to them that their staffing levels or policies are a problem. They have drunk the “tough but fair” koolaid and see turnover as a generational failing and not a business policy problem.

  30. Imaginary Number*

    There’s a huge community of “business mentors” right now and most of them are totally unqualified. I’m not saying this is what’s going on with OP 1’s mentor, because there are legitimate ones out there, but most of them are participants in what’s essentially a pyramid scheme, where they’re whole business model and claimed “success” is that they … taught other people to start a business mentoring business. Outrageously false income claims are the norm and even encouraged. If you dig into their social media you can see that there was zero buildup of their own business. One day they’re talking about their “new journey” and four weeks later it’s “find out how I built a 7-figure business and less than a year!”

    I’ve browsed some of the facebook groups where they share tips with each other and they publicly admit that 90% of their time is spent marketing to new clients and only a small fraction of their time is actually spent mentoring and coaching the clients they’re already sucked in.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Back during the Great Recession there were entire classes of law schools with no jobs waiting for them. One strategy some attempted was to set themselves up as internet marketing gurus, marketing themselves to established small firms with the claim that as lawyers themselves they had special insight. This went about as well as you would expect. Or worse, what with lawyers have those pesky ethics rules.

    2. mediamaven*

      Totally agree with you and it’s in many different industries. We have them in mine – and while they do give good advice on occasion they have never demonstrated remarkable growth of their own businesses. In fact that’s usually why they became the teacher.

    3. OP1*

      So it’s definitely /not/ one of those “do my program and make 6 figures” kind of situations… but I’m also thinking that there’s something in the whole “she’s not qualified” angle. She’s certainly good at running her own business but is clearly not so great at the whole consultancy bit. I unfortunately work in fields where people being good at the business end of things is hard to come by — this mentor is for my side business, for the record, but even for my full time career, there’s tons of people who are good at their jobs and are probably able to manage fairly well at, say, managing their business budget on a basic level, but it can be really hit and miss on the marketing front (eg sometimes the social media content is just laughably bad, but other times it’s good, and websites range from bad, mediocre, to good). Like I feel like in other fields (eg tech, finance) there’s no way you could get by and be successful without developing a stronger acumen for business practices.

      That said, she did still seem to know enough to point me in the right direction as a launching pad and helped my target my skills for the friend and from here on, I suspect I have a stronger business background than she does any how (I worked in finance, marketing, administration etc, while trying to get my chosen career going and have tons of friends to draw on when I need something outside of my business range).

      1. JustaTech*

        Being good at what you do and being good at *teaching* what you do are two different skill sets, and they often don’t overlap.
        That doesn’t mean your mentor/consultant is a bad person, but it likely means they’re not particularly useful, especially as an ongoing relationship.

        1. OP1*

          Yep! I think that’s wise trying to get it. She was helpful early days I just needed some direction but I think overall she’s not a good teacher

  31. Firecat*

    #5 And so many hospitals and clinics are bemoaning the NuRsInG sHoRtAgE despite record # of graduates in that field.

    These ridiculous policies are why.

  32. AMT*

    Re: letter #2, the FAQ thing is a godsend for an enormous variety of problems. I’m a therapist who constantly gets asked where to find resources and support for a niche population, either by my clients or randos calling me up. I made a long, detailed resources page for my web site and just give people the link now. Moral of the story, if you keep writing the same email or getting the same phone call over and over, an FAQ is your friend.

  33. I'm just here for the cats*

    OP5 if you have the ability please try and make an exception for your employee, even if they are not asking for it. I’ve worked at call centers where we had the same policy and it sucks. Especially when I basically got sent home early the day before a holiday because I was having an asthma attack and I went to the ER. I didn’t get my holiday pay for the next day because I left early (By and about an hour).

    Your employee will be so thankful for you if you can try and work this out.

  34. #Null*

    OP2, Perhaps something simple and direct as, “I do not use my personal social media for professional connections.” will suffice. Maybe add in something about reserving personal social for friends and family only to be even more clear about the boundaries. Good luck.

  35. MCMonkeyBean*

    Dang, for LW 3 I was preparing to say that sometimes teams get restructured or rebranded and your customers would get used to it–but that kind of change would obviously come from above and would be carefully planned and rolled out. That is clearly not what is happening here.

    This guy’s obsession is weird, but the fact that is is sticking with it so insistently and telling other people your team has changed seems like a genuine issue that I would raise to either your manager, or if you are the team’s manager then with upper management. This seems like the kind of thing where it’s possible he says it so often for so long that eventually people believe him and then eventually it becomes true. So someone with authority really needs to nip it in the bud!

  36. El l*

    About the quotes: Yes, I find quotes annoying in signatures.

    But even supposedly reputable websites will have “wrong” versions of quotes, or misattributed versions of quotes. Mistakes are so easy to make here.

    “America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, badass speed.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      For anyone serious about it, the Yale Book of Quotations is recent and reputable.

  37. D3*

    At my daughter’s company, you cannot even take PTO the day before/after a holiday if you want holiday pay!
    But her company is a small one owned by a cheapskate who does all kinds of crap like this.
    She cannot wait to get out. And every company meeting he lectures about how ungrateful people are and how hard it is to keep positions filled. He hires a lot of new grads but none of them stay!
    (Maybe think about what role YOU play in that, pal! You pay below average and pull crap like this…)

  38. Andrea*

    Re. letter 5: you can’t apply that to exempt employees??? I was exempt at my first job, and they withheld my Thanksgiving pay because I went home sick the day before Thanksgiving.

    They did a bunch of other illegal stuff (there were shenanigans surrounding severance pay and unemployment when they laid people off), ending with the company going bankrupt and the SEC bringing civil charges against the CEO for defrauding the company, so it wouldn’t shock me if they were also breaking the law with regard to exempt vs. non-exempt employees.

    1. KELLS*

      It really depends where OP is. Where I live (outside the US) it is the law that they don’t need to pay anyone for a holiday if they miss a scheduled work day before or after – regardless if you are salaried.

      Some companies are nice enough to make exceptions through their policies but many choose to enforce it to avoid those that want an extra long weekend. In cases of genuine emergencies most employers would let you apply an extra paid sick day for the holiday if you needed the pay that bad.

  39. fhqwhgads*

    For #4, personally I’d be less concerned that the quote is wrong and more that it’s there in the first place. A quote in the signature, to me, reads very…1998 teenager using the internet for the first time. I’m a little surprised the employer doesn’t have a policy for what does and does not go into signatures. Everywhere I’ve worked for the past 15 years has. It prevents individual employees from looking unprofessional or immature by putting random (or incorrect) things in sigs.

  40. drpuma*

    OP4 the only way I can imagine you successfully saying anything would be to pretend you just recently came across the quote online attributed to the correct person, and you recognized it from her signature. But this is someone senior to you – how good is your relationship? How casually do you converse? If she’s not someone with whom you have regular informal conversations, it’s not worth bringing up.

  41. Delta Delta*

    #5 – One of my relatives, very tragically, had a heart attack about an hour after Christmas dinner. Luckily there were several family members there able to get him to the emergency room (there would have been no time for an ambulance, and the hospital was about 1/2 mile away), but unfortunately he passed later that evening. Also luckily, all the family members there were either teachers (and thus off for winter break), retired, or taking the week off. If I was my relative’s spouse, and worked at OP5’s place, I would have been out of my mind livid to lose Christmas Day pay. Stuff like this happens – there needs to be a compromise.

  42. A Library Person*

    The thing about Letter #2 that I don’t think has come up yet (much) in the comments is that the students are contacting the OP via their personal email address *and* social media. I use my Twitter account both personally and professionally (and it’s searchable through my real name), so someone contacting me on that particular platform for this purpose wouldn’t bother me, but my work email is incredibly easy to locate and I would be put off if someone I otherwise had no connection to dug around for my personal address to try to network. I wonder if that is part of what is bothering OP so much, and if so it’s a grievance I am quite sympathetic to.

    I also wonder whether, as suggested above, contacting the school’s career services center would help. I know this site is often (and understandably) down on collegiate career departments, but the one from my alma mater is actually one of the good ones. They contact me every so often to ask if they can connect me with a student who has reached out to them and wants to discuss getting into my particular subfield, and I almost always say yes. This is definitely different from what’s happening with OP, but OP might want to consider what (if anything) they are willing/happy to offer students and see if the career office can facilitate some of that communication.

    I’m not sure it’s fair to penalize students for a one-time communication when they’ve probably been told to do this in a notoriously difficult-to-break-into field (and I wonder how OP got into it in the first place), but I definitely take OP at their word when they say that it has become too much, and maybe the frequency is the root of the problem. Their frustration is obviously coming from somewhere, and hopefully some combination of communication with the school and employing a stock answer (don’t contact me at my personal email; how do students graduating now not know this?!) can alleviate some of the pressure.

  43. Manana*

    OP2- keep an eye out for your personal biases on which artists you “keep on your radar” and which are too annoying to bother with. It feels a little squicky to me that simultaneously you get too many interested applicants to be bothered, but are secretly keeping tabs on others who you have a history of offering jobs unsolicited. This is how businesses end up with staff lacking diversity. Make sure you have other eyes on reviewing who is “worth” your time and who you decide isn’t to keep yourself in check.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I read it as the “keeping on radar” people were initially on the radar in the first place due to professional/appropriate channels. Like a former applicant who wasn’t a fit for the role they applied for but were a fit for one that came up later. But that anyone who contacted them via personal accounts would’ve been in the “too annoying” pile. That’s sounds reasonable to me?

  44. Lobsterman*

    LW1: I don’t understand the issue – you paid for a service and received a lousy version of it. It’s not “burning a bridge” to say, “This isn’t what I paid for, so I’m canceling.”
    Is there something I’m missing?

    1. OP1*

      I think it’s a relationship management issue, due to her status in my niche industry, and that I’m pretty new to the field so even being sure if I’m in the right here took a while for me to accept. It’s the nuance I’m struggling with, not the fact that I am, in fact, entitled to decide that I no longer want to spend my money on a subpar servide.

  45. Black Horse Dancing*

    It truly shows how very white collar and detached many commenters are that they are surprised about the policy in #5. This is a VERY common policy in healthcare, government, manufacturing, fast food, meat processing, retail, etc. Coverage is needed, holiday or no. Yes, many people do call in the day before or after a holiday. That’s why this policy is enacted. If you can prove a legitimate reason (Here’s proof of an ER visit, police report from an accident, etc.), the policy is usually not enforced. Have someone pass away? You need proof such as a pamphlet from their funeral or an obituary to get the day off. I know a meat processing plant that used to give their night shift their Friday paychecks, Thursday evening as the shift ran 4:30 PM to 1 AM. That why workers get to the bank on Fridays. They stopped that after numerous night shift people called in Fridays. As for paying more, working on the holiday itself gets you additional pay but not day before or after.

    1. Liz*

      Right? I have never known a manufacturer not to have these rules. Especially rules for bereavement leave requiring obituaries and relationship proof. This is the reality for so many blue collar workers.

      1. JustaTech*

        But don’t you have to pay to get an obituary in the newspaper, unless the deceased person is someone really famous? And I know you have to pay for copies of the death certificate. And people are holding off on having funerals now because of COVID (Though I’ve known some families who didn’t have any kind of funeral at all, even before COVID.)

        So you’ve got to pay for proof of relationship/death, or you miss pay? That sucks.

        1. GNG*

          That’s not how it usually works. To clarify, usually, when someone work in these industries, they will only miss a shift to attend a funeral of a close relative. In that case, they might be a 1st degree relative and would already have a copy of the death certificate or obituary, or, they would ask their aunt/cousin/other close relatives for a copy of the obit. Usually people don’t pay to get proof.
          But it does mean people in these industries will sometimes have to miss funerals or weddings of people they aren’t closest too.

        2. Washi*

          These days a lot of people just have the obituary on the crematory/funeral home’s website. So not free, but included as part of the cost of the funeral anyway.

          That said, I do wish bereavement leave could be on the honor system for everyone.

  46. Industrial Tea Machine*

    I am taking Industrial Tea Machine for my new username because it is awesome. That is all.

  47. Lisa B*

    “You’ve brought this up repeatedly and I want to be clear that X, for all the reasons we’ve talked about. It seems like we’re discussing this every time the two of us meet, so I want to be clear it’s not on the table and it doesn’t make sense for us to re-litigate it every time we talk. Is there some piece of this you feel still needs discussion before we put it to rest permanently?”

    This is such a gloriously firm way to shut down long-winded repetitive arguments. Copying that into my Book O’ Handy Phrases.

  48. Lotus*

    #2 – I work in a similarly competitive field, and the grad school I graduated from encourages grads to do this type of awkward “networking” and “get jobs through the back door”. I don’t blame the misguided students and alums for acting on it, but it pisses me off that schools people (presumably) pay thousands of dollars in tuition for deceive desperate job seekers with this kind of shitty advice. It’s like, they’re acknowledging the game is rigged and that only truly well-connected people will get an in to their industry, but instead of being more inclusive, they’re putting the burden on graduates to make up for their lack of connections by making awkward networking attempts.

    I do want to second a comment I read up thread about checking for personal biases. Unless someone was egregiously rude, I would second guess holding these awkward attempts against the graduates, since it’s usually the people with least experience who are susceptible to these antics. Some of us are taught to believe that an informational interview will give us the same opportunities as having an influential uncle.

  49. Putting the Fun in Dysfunctional*

    LW 4 – I agree in principle with Allison’s response, except….if the quote is being attributed to a person of privilege but is really from someone in a position of lesser privilege. So for example, if the quote is commonly mistaken as being from Mr. X, but is actually from Ms. Y. Or similarly, mistakenly known as from this white dude, but is actually originally from a person of colour. In any of these situations, I would feel more inclined to speak up because of the history of lack of recognition for persons from these groups.

  50. 4CeeleenLV*

    I started a job in June and had a scheduled vacation already set up for August (I wouldn’t have been able to take it otherwise, as I only got 5 days accrued combined PTO/sick time, so after 1 year working there I would have accrued 5 days to use total). The day I got back, the night before work I had an ovarian cyst rupture and was admitted to the hospital. It was so hard to know what to say when texting my boss from the CT bay while blacking in and out. I included my hospital room number in the text because I knew she would think I was lying. Guess what, she did. I expected she might call me at the hospital to verify. No, she SHOWED UP at the hospital to verify. I think she was enormously surprised to see me hooked up to tubes, soaked in sweat, with my partner at the hospital. Guess I showed her right? Unsurprisingly, she ended up making me pay back several weeks of medical leave when I ultimately ended up needing surgery for this same issue. I had to pay back about $4500. I paid it and then quit and moved away from that city. My boss acted very betrayed and put-upon.

  51. Always Happy*

    For LW#5….I used to work for a collection agency, for many many years. We had the same issue…if you didn’t work at least 6 hours the day before or 6 hours the day after a holiday, you wouldn’t get paid for the holiday and they wouldn’t allow you to use your PTO. I happened to get sick one year, right before 4th of July… Absolutely no voice whatsoever. This wasn’t a case of not wanting to be there…I felt fine, but no voice what so ever. It go so bad that the particular client that I was working directly for, wanted to know why I was still there. Reason #99999 why I left there after almost 18 years.

  52. Raida*

    #3 Yeah you should have been correcting him the whole time, mate.
    Someone new comes in, blathers a bunch of garbage and it goes on for MONTHS? fck that, I’d’ve had a meeting between his and my managers/executive managers to nail down in one session team names, functionality, a cheat-sheet for the NEW GUY to understand the VERY IMPORTANT WORK that the existing team does.
    And make it clear that he is not correct in his assertions, the higher-ups that he’s trying to sound important to know that he is THE NEW GUY who needs to accept the business’ decision.

    What, his area will be important so he gets to LIE all the time and talk sh*t? No. Not at any point at any level. No.

  53. OP5*

    This is OP#5 with a few points of clarification (the big one first):
    1) We’re both exempt employees. I actually spoke to my employee about it today and they gave permission for me to contact HR. Does anyone have the legal citation to send them?

    2) We’re an outpatient clinic that is closed on major US holidays and a few extras including Christmas Eve, the day after Thanksgiving, and a few others. The number of holidays, PTO allocation, and overall benefits package is more generous than many of our peer organizations.
    3) Everyone is off and paid for the holiday itself. It’s not practical to pay extra for employees to return for the next scheduled work day. This would be like getting a paid holiday off for New Years and then extra pay to work on Jan 2nd.
    4) We’re not held to legal staffing requirements or safe staffing for patients/nurses, but we do require a certain amount of support staff to run a clinic. Imagine 100+ patients coming in with only 1 person at check-in, phones not getting answered, no one to draw blood, etc… Not life-and-death, but incredibly frustrating for patients and the staff who work overtime trying to get everyone seen. Days like that burn through the holiday (and team) spirit real quick.
    5) I would never want to be in a position to judge whether someone was being honest about an excuse. Unfortunately, I have had patients forge excusal notes and been contacted by their HR. It’s ugly. I never want to be on the managerial side of that.
    6) It was actually seeing the policy through my husband’s eyes (he works in a very different industry) that caused me to question my perspective. I’ve known several employees (both exempt and non-exempt) impacted by it over the years and would have personally taken the hit had I needed to call out myself. But, yes, it’s a bad policy.

    Thank you for the feedback, everyone.

    1. Captain of the No Fun Department*

      I actually came here to add a note for you OP#5. I’m Canadian and typically find most policies in American companies to be much less employee friendly. This is one rare instances where I think it will be the other way around. In one Canadian province which I previously lived in, this same rule was a law! If an employee called out or skipped work (not a planned vacation) the day before or day after a statutory holiday, they would not qualify for holiday pay. Anyways, I just wanted to share this because it seems like an interesting fact.

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